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Madison County hospitals filling up, putting a strain on health care workers

"This is not a battle, it's a war, and it's a little bit different in war. Typically you try to rotate your troops out," said Dr. Pam Hudson.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — In Alabama, hospitalizations are nearing the peak we saw at the end of July.

The number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital is up 45% in the first week of November compared to all of October.

During a COVID-19 update Tuesday, hospital officials in Madison County noted that health care workers are feeling the impact.

Crestwood Medical Center CEO Dr. Pam Hudson said, "This is not a battle, it's a war, and it's a little bit different in war. Typically you try to rotate your troops out. In this particular war with COVID-19, there's no place to rotate. Our teams are in there and are working."

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During the press conference, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle pointed out statistics showing the surge in COVID-19 cases in Madison County. He said in October, we averaged 50 cases a day, but in the first week of November, we averaged 76 cases a day.

"We've also seen some days in November where we've had a few days of spikes, 113 positives in one day, 101 on another," said Battle.

Despite the spike in cases, there is some good news.

Monoclonal antibody treatments could be approved by December or January. These treatments can be given to people who aren't sick enough to be hospitalized.

On Monday, Pfizer announced their potential vaccine has proven 90% effective in clinical trials.

RELATED: US allows 1st emergency use of experimental COVID-19 antibody drug

Once a vaccine is approved, it will be distributed in three phases.

Phase one is getting the vaccine out to health care workers. Phase two is vaccinating high risk patients. Phase three is giving it to anyone who wants it.

For now, leaders say we must stay vigilant as we celebrate this holiday season.

"People will be getting together and even though we have good news right now. The good news is that there's treatment. The good news is that they're working on a vaccine. It's not going to be ready this holiday season," Battle said.

There are some challenges that will come with a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Hudson says these vaccines have a shelf life and must be kept at negative 80 degrees.

Once they get the vaccines, she says they will be planning vaccination events.

Health officials hope a coronavirus vaccine will be widely available by the summer of 2021.

RELATED: What is the timeline for a COVID-19 vaccine?

More is still being learned about the long term effects of COVID-19, but they do know the after affects of this virus can be serious.

Even if you're less susceptible to the coronavirus, health leaders encourage you to continue to practice social distancing, sanitize, and wear a mask.

To watch the full November 10th Huntsville Madison County COVID-19 press conference, click here.

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