While protests worldwide have taken over the headlines, there remains one albatross around America’s and the world’s collective necks.
The COVID-19 pandemic.
And as unrest surrounding many of the protests, including in Huntsville, against police brutality following the death of George Floyd, a black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer this country is facing another big question.
Will the hundreds and even thousands of people in close-in crowds hasten what is feared to be a second round of the virus?
“There’s more opportunity for people to get sick, there’s no doubt about it,’’ Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers said. “Whether or not that creates the spike we’re all looking for I don’t know. I don’t think we know enough about this virus to know if it’s contagious in the middle of the summer when it’s 90 degrees as it is or when it’s 35 degrees and we’re all together.
“I think any social event is an opportunity for people to get sick if somebody in that group is sick if they don’t practice distancing. And I know it’s probably hard to do when you’re in a crowd like that.’’
Spillers predicted there will likely be a spike in two weeks when any protestors contract the virus. He also local hospitals “have a plan if there is a spike.’’
The Alabama Department of Public Health’s website joined many throughout the nation in experiencing trouble updating its statistics last week when a backlog of lab results overwhelmed systems.
But during Friday’s pandemic briefing it was announced the figures posted at the ADPH site were back in order. Those results as of Saturday night showed there have been 359 confirmed cases of the virus with four deaths in Madison County.
Madison County Commission Chair Dale Strong reported that Huntsville Hospital has seven in-patients and Madison Hospital has two with none of those on ventilators.
Earlier, Spillers said, “I look at the numbers and while I’m not unhappy about it, I’d like the numbers to be less. But I’m an optimist and we’re holding our own and I think we’ll be OK.
“But all that could change quickly if we’re not very careful.’’
Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield recommended that anyone who has attended a protest gets tested. But, Spillers said not many asymptomatic people Huntsville has tested have proved to be positive and that no system has “an unlimited supply.’’
Dr. Karen Landers of the ADPH said while anyone experiencing symptoms shouldn’t hesitate to seek testing, prudence should be in order.
“I get asked a lot of times about a large entity where perhaps a person has had a case,’’ she said. “We have to remember not everyone is not going to develop Covid-19 and not everyone has the same level of exposure.
“We’re really talking about people that are either household, intimate partner, or close contacts where there are less than six feet of space for greater than 15 minutes. It’s really all about the time and the exposure to the person.”