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Tennessee Valley News Week in Review 12-15-2023

Catch up on the biggest news about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley
Catch up on the biggest news about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley

Catch up on the week's biggest stories about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley.

New numbers came out Thursday showing how many people have been sick with either Flu, RSV or COVID-19. As of December 14th in Alabama, more than 6% of all emergency room patients are showing symptoms of a respiratory virus. Most of those people have the flu. District Medical Officer Dr. Wes Stubblefield tells WBRC TV in Birmingham this year we are seeing flu cases spiking in December, which he says is not unusual, but something to remember as you get around more friends and family. Dr. Stubblefield says right now, about 4% of people with the flu end up in the ER and he says hospitals are handling the caseload for now. He says getting vaccinated, finding proper testing if you don’t feel 100%, and washing your hands are critical to staying healthy.

New data from the American Medical Association shows that opioid prescriptions are trending down in Alabama from 2012 to 2022. Prescriptions went down 3.2% from 2021 to 2022, a 43.7% decrease from the 10 years. The Medical Association for the State of Alabama said they have been working to educate physicians on not fully relying on prescribing opioids for pain management. Association president Dr. George Kulianos tells WSFA TV in Montgomery that he recommends nonsteroidal pain medication, physical therapy, exercise, and changes in diet and lifestyle as an alternative to opioids for pain management.

Companies that have been awarded licenses by the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission plan to dispense products in 37 locations in 21 cities across the state. The law passed by the Legislature authorizing medical marijuana placed caps on the number of licenses and dispensary sites. AL.com reports that license applications show that dispensaries are planned in north Alabama in Athens, Cullman, Florence and Decatur. One licensee expects products could be available by late spring or early summer of 2024.

The Alabama Commission on Higher Education is proposing a nearly 7% budget increase for public colleges next year. Officials say that will help offset rising insurance and inflationary costs. Commissioners approved a $2.12 billion recommendation – a total increase of $135.8 million – for the 2024-25 fiscal year at the commission’s quarterly meeting. AL.com notes none of the additional funds will support personnel or salary increases,

Huntsville City Schools will offer a new virtual and hybrid learning option next school year, Artemis Academy. The Huntsville City Board of Education approved the new virtual school during a meeting this week. According to the school system, Artemis Academy will offer students in grades K-12 the flexibility to engage learning virtually while also giving students the ability to receive additional support in person if they need it. Students will be able to participate in sports, band, choir and other extracurriculars in the school they are normally zoned for. WHNT TV reports families will need to apply for the program and applications will open in February 2024. The school is offered at no cost.

The Alabama Department of Transportation has launched a new version of its ALGO Traffic app and website. This update provides travelers with an enhanced user experience by integrating more details and personalized information to help travelers avoid roadway congestion and get to their destination safely. ALGO Traffic also provides exclusive information about ongoing ALDOT construction projects and updates on the state’s Rest Areas and Welcome Centers. Drivers can visit ALGOtraffic.com or download the ALGO Traffic app to learn more and to subscribe to personalized traveler alerts.

The Huntsville Botanical Garden’s holiday light-show “Galaxy of Lights” won second in the nation for “Best Botanical Garden Light Show” according to USA Today’s 10Best. Voters selected the top 10 best shows from 20 total nominations from across the country. The light show in Richmond, Virginia’s botanical garden came in first. Huntsville Blast notes that Huntsville’s garden was named the sixth best botanical garden in the nation by USA Today earlier this year.