WATCH: Huntsville and Madison County leaders speak about local coronavirus outbreak
WATCH: Huntsville and Madison County leaders speak about local coronavirus outbreak
We're interrupting regular programming with breaking news out of madison county.
County and city leaders are about to give a coronavirus update.
Let's listen in.
Test test test test test test test test.
>>> i don't know if it's going to be 50 patients or 150 patients or 900 patients.
We don't know.
But we do know that's when our unitization of supplies is going to be the highest and that's what we're trying to prepare for.
Anything we can do to minimize the peak and lower the curve allows us to continue to work through our supply chains to make sure we have to take car of our patients and employees and physphysicians treating the patients.
>> this is for the chairman.
>> if you don't mind, please identify yourself.
>> i'm brian lawson, whmt.
This is for the chairman.
I'll be happy to hear from mr. spillers too if that's appropriate.
We're seeing progress in terms of supplies and testing and that kind of thing.
On the other hand there's some grim projections out there.
The white house task force yesterday talked about the death rate and on the low end of 100,000 people, maybe as high as quarter of a million people.
And those are assuming some good social distancing guidelines are followed.
Those are large numbers.
I wonder your reaction when you hear a figure like that, what you would say to the community about how to process that and how best to respond and maybe finally do you think differently about the world in the face of something like this.
>> brian, i think that's a great question.
Our effort here on the more local note is for people to be aware of what scientists are believing, was that is -- i'm a data-driven person.
You see these numbers, that's staggering.
Those numbers are staggering to think of that.
Right now we have the right people at the right place at the right time here in huntsville, madison county.
David spillers is the ceo of the fourth or fifth largest health care system in the united states.
I believe people heeded the warning.
You think about it.
We closed the courthouse on the 16th, immediately when the data showed that we needed to close, then you watched as the progression went.
I think people understand what's at stake.
I think we're doing everything possible to stop the progression of this.
I think our health care workers and our first responders on the front line are doing a phenomenal job.
We continue to monitor pu we're going to treat the patients that needed to be treated.
We're going to transport the patients that need to be transported.
The communication links are better than i've ever seen it.
I've been a part of several disasters.
This is different than anything i've been a part of.
But i can tell you this right here.
The communication is excellent.
People who are needing definitive health care are able to get it.
We've freed up space in the hospital through efforts of our leadership so that if that peak point and when that peak point hits we will be able to handle it.
We have extra ventilators on hand because those are items that will be leaded when this time occurs.
But you look at it, i think that our health care community and the leadership and our cities and counties, city council members are more engaged than i've ever seen it and the people here are engaged.
And the benefit of that will occur in the daysoff ahead because of how s serious people are taking it here in madison county.
>> yeah, brian, that's a devadevastating number.
That shocks everybody when they hear the 100,000, much less the larger number that they throw around.
And our county hasn't experienced a disease taking this many lives since the 1918 flu.
We weren't prepared for something like that.
I think 200,000 people died the second month of the 1918 flu.
Yonl remember the numbers on h1n one, it was around 60,000.
It was a significant number.
And i think what we've got to do in this community is criminal -- controlwhat we can control.
We have the ability in north alabama to be an outlier and not have the same devastation that the other communities have if we do the things that we're talking about doing.
I think our testing early helped us.
I think we can continue to test and continue to isolate people who have symptoms who are diagnosed.
That's a positive.
If we continue to sanitize and separate, that's a positive.
At this point every community in the country needs to focus on the area they can control and the things they can control to miminimize the impact on the community.
I think we're doing that, need to continue to do that.
Hopefully they'll be wrong.
Hopefully the number will be far less than that but i would not be surprised by the number when you think about the number of people that die from the normal flu and the h1n1 and other types of disease that ravage our countriercountry trievery year e don't talk about.
>> i heard from some folks yesterday who work with other folks, colleagues, that sort of thing, who don't a seem to be getting the message.
That's their concern.
I wonder what you would say to cut through it for people.
We've talking about heeding social distancing and other good practices.
Is there a way to cut through somebody's lack of seriousness on this issue?
>> i believe people understand what's at stake.
Today more than maybe a week, there were people that might have thought there was some hype to this.
I think that most of that has been dissipated.
You look at it here in madison county.
We're the largest employer for 12 counties in north alabama and two counties in southern tennessee.
Redstone arsenal creates 10% of the entire gdp of the entire state of alabama.
When you see a military base go to only essential employees, that was a major decision.
But i do believe that the people now understand the seriousliness seriousnessof it and this is noa political issue this is a health issue.
It's not just the united states, it's throughout the world and now is the time to act.
We acted earlier.
And i think that we're going to see benefits from that but i don't think that our worst day has come yet.
>> i'm with channel 48.
This question for you, sir.
What are you doing to ensure the state of supplies, of testing supplies so that once the drive hch through clinic reopens it stays open?
I'm not sure everybody heard your question.
But you asked about how we're trying to acquire supplies to keep our drive-through clinics open.
We're working with the vendor that has been supplying us.
We're also working with the state to try to acquire enough tests to open john hunt park.
We are at the mercy of those distributers to get those supplies and run those tests.
So when i tell you we're doing everything we can to get them, that means we're calling them every day and trying to be the first priority to get those.
But they're having a hard time getting them from their whole sailer.
There's a series of suppliers in this line.
If they can't get them, they obviously can't get them to us and there's nothing i can do to guarantee that we will be open continuously once we start getting access to supplies.
We'll open as long as we have them, we'll run as many tests as we can every day but i can't make any guarantees on the number of tests we'll be able to run every day.
I'm sorry about that.
That's the world we live in.
>> there's reports of nurses leaving jobs in the south to work in new york because of the double and triple pay opportunities.
Are you aware of this in huntsville?
>> again, repeating the question, nursing are being encouraged to leave areas like alabama to go work in states in need.
And those states are throwing a lot of money at nurses that would leave to do traveling work.
We've heard some of that.
We have not had, that i know of, a large number.
I don't know that we've had any leave our community to go work elsewhere.
Keep in mind that the hospitals in those larger communities have revenue and money available to them that we don't have.
They traditionally pay much higher salaries like most jobs in new york that we don't pay and right now they have a lot of premium pays to get nurse to go there.
We're going to continue to fight to keep our nurses -- i will tell you a majority of the people that work in our community are dedicated to this community and they're going the stay here and take care of the people that thigh live pe side.
This is their family, their community.
We hope they'll stay hope.
We hope that won't be a problem.
We deal with that all of the time in health care.
There are also attempts from states that have more resources than we do here in north alabama to try to hire staff away and usually we do pretty good keeping them.
Hopefully that will continue.
>> at this point we'll conclude this press conference.
Thank you for coming.
>>> we were hearing from top leaders in madison county, the latest on their response to coronavirus here in our area.
Some good news coming from huntsville hospital ceo david spillers saying that the huntville hospital lab is allowed to start testing, running the testing in their own lab w, that they could run up to 20 samples a day and get a quicker turn around.
When we last heard from him he said that was not happening right now.
But after a lot of concern and hearing from you, they're allowing that to happen.
Also he said that there were five patients that were in-patients at one time being treated for coronavirus and those five patients have since recovered and been discharged from the hospital.
We're hearing some hope, good news as we're moving forward in this fight against coronavirus.
He also mentioned a masking policy for anyone in huntsville hospital and crestwood medical center.
Of course once they get the supplies that they needed, that new policy to help patients and hospital workers to feel betterrer secure and better protect everyone inside.
We're talking about supplies.
And pat, we heard about how businesses are pitching in.
>> we heard from the huntsville madison chamber of commerce this morning talking about that.
Spillers pointing out you've got companies like toyota putting everything off to the s side saying we're going to make things for this health care workers.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
That's what's happening with a lot of businesses.
So he came on the program this morning and spillers reiterated that, that you have a number of businesses that want to get involved and help hospitals and make the supplies.
So the chamber is coordinating all of that.
They have a great portion of their website that's dedicated to that.
So if you are a business owner and you want to get involved, go to the huntsville madsson chamber of commerce website right now and just list how you can get involved and they'll help coordinate the efforts.
You heard from connie graham with the census 2020 here locally.
This is a tough time for them to be involved.
It happens every ten years and it's happening right now.
Very important for us to fill out the census forms, respond online, phone or mail.
Get your friends and family involved.
Every person counts and we need to be counted as far as that's concerned.
And then you heard from dale strong, madison county commission, strong words from him today saying look this is not a time to let down our guard.
We need to continue to make these sacrifices to ston this virus.
Stop this vie vus.
This expected spike, if and when that happens, peak time, 10 to 14 days.
We have to keep continuing what we can as a community, keep the distancing.
Takes this seriously.
He thinks everybody's got the word to continue to do that open keep the numbers down.
We're continuing to follow all of what your leaders are doing in reaction to the coronavirus outbreak.
The next news conference or the next meeting is this afternoon at 2:00, huntsville city schools are meeting, going over their plans preparing students for at-home learning.
We'll have more on that today and all of the other news of the day regarding how north
Toyota invited news anchor Pat Simon to tour the inside the plant to get a look at its new normal.
WATCH: Huntsville, Madison County April 20 coronavirus briefing