East Alabama Medical Center is expecting a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the coming weeks, as the number of new virus cases locally continues to go up.
The rise comes despite the exodus of Auburn University students from campus for the semester that started last week, effectively shrinking the local population.
EAMC had 37 virus patients hospitalized on Monday, the highest since Oct. 14, but the number dropped to 32 on Tuesday. Additionally, four patients were on ventilators on Tuesday, according to EAMC data.
Calm before storm
“I still feel like we’re in a ‘calm before the storm’ situation,” Dr. Ricardo Maldonado, infectious diseases specialist at EAMC, said.
Maldonado added that many Alabama hospitals are having a more rapid rise in virus hospitalizations than EAMC.
“We’re bracing for another impact,” Maldonado said. “But we have withstood these impacts before and we’ll do it again.”
EAMC saw its COVID-19 testing positivity rate drop slightly last week. The hospital system tested 443 people through its testing site with 51 of them testing positive. The positivity rate for the week of Nov. 16-20 was 11.5, down from the previous week’s rate of 12.6 percent, EAMC said.
EAMC tested 98 people Monday due to testing requests related to travel with 16 people testing positive. The positivity rate was 16.3 percent for Monday.
“It’s important to remember that testing conducted by EAMC through its 528-SICK call center only accounts for about 20 percent of new positive cases each week,” a release from EAMC reads. “While EAMC reported 51 new cases last week, a total of 251 new cases was reported for Lee County.”
The number of new COVID-19 continued its significant rise throughout the weekend in east Alabama.
ADPH reported 61 new virus cases in Chambers County, 181 in Lee County, 32 in Macon County, 63 in Russell County and 51 in Tallapoosa County from Friday to Monday.
The average number of COVID-19 cases reported in the past two weeks also rose in almost every east Alabama county during the weekend, a trend that has continued since late October. Chambers County’s average rose from about 14 cases on Friday to about 15.1 on Tuesday, according to ADPH data.
Macon County’s average rose from about 6.2 cases on Friday to about 7.1 cases on Tuesday. Russell County’s average slightly rose from about 11.3 cases on Friday to about 11.6 cases on Tuesday.
Tallapoosa County’s average slightly fell from about 16.4 on Friday to about 16.2 on Tuesday, according to ADPH.
Lee County’s average is the highest average among all east Alabama counties. The county’s average rose from about 41.9 cases on Friday to about 47.1 cases on Tuesday, a rise in about five new cases per day. Lee County was averaging about 18 new cases per day in late October, ADPH data shows.
The following is a look at the total number of confirmed cases, probable cases and combined total cases for east Alabama counties:
- Chambers County – 1,079 confirmed, 635 probable, 1,714 combined
- Lee County – 4,725 confirmed, 2,873 probable, 7,597 combined
- Macon County – 631 confirmed, 86 probable, 717 combined
- Russell County – 1,944 confirmed, 248 probable, 2,192 combined
- Tallapoosa County – 1,296 confirmed, 421 probable, 1,717 combined
There were 197,848 confirmed virus cases and 39,017 probable cases as of Tuesday in Alabama. The combined total of COVID-19 cases was 236,865.
There were 3,165 confirmed deaths and 307 probable deaths in the state as well, according to ADPH.
Of the 3,165 reported deaths in Alabama, 41 are from Chambers County, 51 from Lee County, 16 from Macon County, three from Russell County and 88 from Tallapoosa County. Of the 307 probable deaths, seven are from Chambers County, 14 from Lee County, four from Macon County and one from Tallapoosa County.
The number of new COVID-19 cases reported at Auburn University dropped during the university’s last full week of on-campus learning for the fall semester.
The university said that 14 new virus cases were self-reported to the school during the week ending on Nov. 22, eight fewer cases than the previous week’s total. The school also reported a 0.41 percent positivity rate among those tested through its voluntary sentinel testing, according to data released Tuesday afternoon.
Of the 15 virus cases, all were reported on Auburn’s main campus. There have been 1,481 reported COVID-19 cases since Aug. 17, according to Auburn University data.
The university said 23 campus community members self-reported positive COVID-19 tests during the week ending on Nov. 15. It also reported a 0.83 percent positivity rate during the same timeframe among those tested through sentinel testing.
Auburn University tested 976 people through the sentinel testing program last week. A total of 6,041 Auburn students, faculty and staff have been tested through the program since it began.
Auburn University’s last day of class was Tuesday with its Thanksgiving break beginning Wednesday. Auburn’s final exams will be administered remotely so students do not have to return to campus following the Thanksgiving break.
Auburn University’s spring semester is set to begin Jan. 11.
Data provided Tuesday represents students, employees and contractors who self-reported positive test results to Auburn University and those who tested positive through the AU GuideSafe Sentinel testing, according to the school's COVID-19 data dashboard.
The number of new COVID-19 cases reported by Alabama school systems to the ADPH and the Alabama State Department of Education rose by nearly 670cases last week. Many local counties also saw a rise in cases.
Chambers County Schools reported eight cases, Lee County Schools reported 21 cases, Phenix City Schools reported 15 cases and Tallapoosa County Schools reported nine cases, according to the Alabama’s K-12 COVID-19 School Dashboard.
Russell County Schools reported less than five cases, a rise from the no reported cases the previous work. Tallassee City Schools reported less than five cases, similar to the previous week’s total. Macon County also reported less than five cases.
Auburn City Schools reported nine cases, 13 fewer than the previous week’s total of 22 cases. Opelika City Schools reported 10 cases, fewer cases than the previous week’s total of 13 cases. Lanett City Schools reported no virus cases, down from the previous week’s total of less than five cases, according to the dashboard.