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Madison County hospitalizations become area of concern, ADPH update on school COVID-19 guidelines

Leaders say Madison County is doing relatively well at this point. But, hospitalizations are a major concern. Dr. Hudson talks ADPH school guidelines.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala — We’re seven months into the fight against coronavirus. Public health officials in Madison County say, although you may be tired of wearing masks and social distancing, now is not the time to let up.

Our team down the latest from Wednesday's COVID-19 update. 

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Dr. Pam Hudson of Crestwood Medical Center says, “The virus is still out there, hiding in people who are asymptomatic or who have minimal signs of illness.”

Leaders say Madison County is doing relatively well at this point in the pandemic. But, the risks are still high. Dr. Hudson adds, “Our 14 day COVID rate is 186 per 100,000; one of the lowest in North Alabama, if not the lowest. 

Hospitalizations are a major concern. 

Madison Mayor Paul Finley says, “Over the last 7 days, averaged about 4.5 hospitalizations per day or more. We’re up to 144 in the North Alabama area and that’s about a 27% increase.” 

Dr. Hudson alerts locals of a change in ADPH guidelines in identifying common symptoms of COVID-19. She explains, “... loss of the sense or smell or taste is now a presumptive positive. No test is needed to confirm. Your diagnosis is COVID. 

Dr. Hudson urges you to take any symptoms seriously. It could mean life or death for vulnerable persons you come in contact with. She adds, “Stay home if you’re sick, go home if you’re sick. It’s not okay to tough it out.” 

 The county is prepping for a vaccine. Dr. Hudson says, that is “...estimated to be in the April or May time frame of 2021." She adds, “... when enough vaccines will be available to offer that to all of our citizens. Those plans are underway at the state and national level and certainly at the local level.”

ADPH is also putting out new guidelines that indicate schools DO have to report ill students or staff with one or more “major” COVID-19 symptoms: new cough, new loss of sense of taste or smell, and/or shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. But, schools do not have to report students or staff with "minor" symptoms. 

CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS ON ADPH SCHOOL GUIDELINES

Some parents are concerned. 

 When asked about the changes, Dr. Hudson says, “As the guidance comes out, knowledgeable people are trying to implement the guidance and not everyone will be happy with the decisions. It is a work in progress.” 

Dr. Hudson urges everyone to get their flu shot and continue masking and social distancing. We can all hope for a mild flu season as we combat COVID. 

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