East Alabama Medical Center’s testing positivity rate for COVID-19 jumped up higher than 30 percent last week, according to data released by the hospital.
EAMC’s test positivity rate was 38.5 percent from Aug. 24 to Aug. 28, up from the previous week’s positivity rate of 17.8 percent. EAMC tested 752 people last week and 290 of those tests came back positive, EAMC said.
The COVID-19 test positivity rate in Alabama for the week ending on Aug. 29 was 10.6 percent, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
The hospital system says it saw a sharp increase across the board last week when it came to its COVID-19 call center, testing site and the number of positive virus cases with the increase beginning on Aug. 21. Despite the increase, EAMC says staff was still able to meet the demand.
“We were able to meet the increased need because of our experiences earlier in the pandemic.” John Atkinson, EAMC spokesman, said.
Atkinson added that the increases are likely correlated to schools re-opening in August and that the increase in new cases has not impacted hospitalization so far.
“We hope the same can be said in two weeks,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson noted that call volumes, testing and the positivity rate were all lower Monday and Tuesday of this week.
EAMC had three straight days of no new COVID-19 admissions through the emergency department, which helped bring the total number of virus-related hospitalizations down to 20 on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s hospitalizations is the lowest number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized since June 27 when 19 patients were hospitalized, according to hospital data.
“We were averaging around three new admissions a day back in July, and sometimes as many as six,” Atkinson said. “More recently, that number had dropped to one or two, but to have zero for three straight days is really good news. But it’s important to remember that our census was consistently in the 20's from May 4 to July 4 and three weeks later, we were at 62.”
EAMC officials are pleading with community members to be proactive as the Labor Day weekend approaches to help keep COVID-19 hospitalizations down and limit the spread of the virus.
“We cannot afford to let our guard down again,” Atkinson said. “We want everyone to enjoy their weekend, but to do so responsibly. Take the appropriate steps that we all know by now are key to reducing the spread of COVID-19.”
ADPH is seeing an increase of probable COVID-19 cases. The department reported 10,019 total probable COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and says probable cases are investigated the same as a confirmed case and is counted as a case.
“A probable case of COVID-19 is a person who has an epidemiologic link (close contact) to a confirmed case with symptoms of COVID-19 and did not have a PCR because they did not choose to have a PCR or a PCR test was not available or had another reason not to be tested,” ADPH told the Opelika-Auburn News. “Recently, with more antigen testing (tests for the nucleocapsid protein of the virus) becoming available for SARSCoV2, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists included persons with positive antigen tests as probable cases of COVID-19.”
ADPH added that a probable COVID-19 case has the same home isolation requirements.
Lee County had the highest increase in probable COVID-19 cases statewide Wednesday with 69 new probable virus cases, according to Bama Tracker, an online Alabama COVID-19 tracking independent database.
There were 3,371 confirmed virus cases and 1,443 probable cases for a combined total of 4,814 virus cases in Lee County as of Wednesday night, according to ADPH data.
Lee County is averaging about 180 new virus cases per day during the past week when looking at the total number of confirmed and probable cases, according to Bama Tracker data.
ADPH also took away 24 confirmed cases from the Lee County total on Wednesday. The department reported there were 3,395 confirmed cases in the county on Tuesday.
“At times, cases are counted as a case in a county then, upon review or investigation, it is determined that the case lives in another county or state,” ADPH said about the change in total cases in Lee County.
The following is a look at the total number of confirmed cases, probable cases and combined total cases for other east Alabama counties:
- Chambers County – 861 confirmed, 184 probable, 1,045 combined
- Macon County – 399 confirmed, 43 probable, 442 combined
- Russell County – 1,548 confirmed, 93 probable, 1,641 combined
- Tallapoosa County – 934 confirmed, 132 probable, 1,066 combined
The following is the average number of new confirmed cases, excluding probable cases, in east Alabama counties over the past 14 days:
- Chambers County — 2
- Lee County – 39
- Macon County — 3
- Russell County — 8
- Tallapoosa County — 3
There were 118,220 confirmed cases, 10,019 probable cases and 2,114 virus-related deaths in Alabama as of Wednesday night, according to ADPH. The combined total of virus cases in the state was 128,239.
Of the 2,114 reported deaths, 39 are from Chambers County, 49 from Lee County, 17 from Macon County, two from Russell County and 82 from Tallapoosa County.