Huntsville Hospital Vice President Says COVID Defense Is Progressing

By Dana Beyerle

Tracy Doughty, Huntsville Hospital Vice President of Operations

Madison County’s fight against the COVID 19 virus is progressing well and should be very advanced this summer, Huntsville Hospital’s Vice President of Operations said Thursday.

“It’s going very well compared to several months ago,” Tracy Doughty said. “We’ve come a long way from where we were.” Doughty will become the hospital’s President and Chief Operating Officer on July 1.

He spoke to the Tennessee Valley Fly Fishers monthly meeting using remote technology.

Doughty said about 100,000 vaccines have been distributed in Madison County. “We plan to be here until everybody is vaccinated,” he said.

Madison County’s population is about 385,000, so based on the numbers, more than one-fourth of the county’s eligible residents have been vaccinated. “We think people are taking the vaccine serious.

As of April 14, the Alabama department of Public Health said that Alabama had 520,780 reported COVID cases and 10,728 reported deaths. As of that date, 2.2 million doses have been administered to 1.4 million people.

Madison County’s new cases-per-day spiked in mid-January but the number of new cases has dropped significantly since. As of April 14, Madison County had 33,940 reported cases of COVID 19 and 495 deaths, according to USA Facts.

Anyone 16 years of age and older is eligible for the vaccine, of which there are currently three types. Alabama has about 4.4 million residents age 16 and older. The Huntsville Hospital System and other organizations are offering vaccines.

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Although Alabama’s official mask requirement has been lifted, Doughty said it’s prudent to continue wearing a mask, practicing safe distancing, and continuing to take precautions such as washing hands, not touching your face, and using hand sanitizer.

“If you have been vaccinated and others have been vaccinated, you can be around each other,” he said.

Doughty said it will probably be this summer before vaccinations will have covered most of the population. He said he expects that annual boosters will be required much as influenza vaccines are updated each year.

“When we get boosters and herd immunity, it will lead to getting back to normal,” he said.

According to its website, the Huntsville Hospital Health System includes hospitals in Huntsville, and Athens, Boaz, Decatur, Guntersville, Fayetteville, Tenn., Madison, Moulton, Red Bay, and Sheffield. The Health System includes more than 2,200 patient beds and 15,000 employees.