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EAMC hospitalizations highest in two months; AU sees early flu cases

EAMC hospitalizations highest in two months; AU sees early flu cases

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East Alabama Medical Center during the weekend had the highest number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized since mid-August.

EAMC had 40 COVID-19 patients hospitalized Friday, 36 on Saturday, 35 on Sunday, 37 on Monday and 36 on Tuesday.

The hospital also recorded the highest number of virus patients on ventilators on Tuesday, nine, since 10 were on ventilators on Aug. 12, according to hospital data.

“We’re fairly stable with COVID hospitalizations right now — as are most hospitals in Alabama — but reports are starting to surface about hospitals in other states nearing capacity,” John Atkinson, EAMC spokesman, said. “It’s important that people continue being cautious so as to limit the spread of COVID-19.

"The keys are still social distancing, wearing a mask and good hand hygiene, and will become even more important as we approach the holidays.”

EAMC also noted that its COVID-19 test positivity rate fell for the sixth straight week last week. The positivity rate for Oct. 5-9 was 7.8 percent. The positivity rate for the previous week was 11.5 percent.

The hospital tested 395 individuals during the same time frame with only 31 testing positive, according to EAMC.

EAMC and EAMC-Lanier remained in orange level visitation restrictions on Tuesday, meaning one visitor per patient per day is allowed to visit in most inpatient areas.

Auburn University

Auburn University reported the lowest weekly number of new COVID-19 cases last week, but medical officials are concerned about the number of new flu cases.

The university said that 16 new virus cases were reported to the school during the week ending on Oct. 11. The school also reported a 0.25 percent positivity rate among those tested through its voluntary sentinel testing, according to data released Tuesday afternoon.

“I feel really confident about where the numbers are,” Dr. Fred Kam, director of the Auburn University Medical Clinic, said.

All of the cases were reported on Auburn’s main campus. There have been 1,384 reported COVID-19 cases since Aug. 17, according to Auburn University data.

Kam added that he is surprised about seeing flu cases this early into the flu season.

“In the last week we’ve seen two cases of the flu already,” he said. “That was a surprise. It is clear that the flu virus is starting to circulate at a lower rate but the more people that we get vaccinated, the less likelihood that we will have an outbreak of the flu.”

Kam also noted that he expects to see a spike in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks but doesn’t feel that it will impact the school having students on campus until the end of the fall semester.

“I think that we can have a bit of an uptick or a spike starting in the next week or two and continuing definitely after Halloween,” Kam said. “I hope, once again, that I’m wrong like I was wrong after Labor Day.

"It is all going to depend on personal accountability and what people do, how they act and what their interactions are that will determine how successful we are.”

The university said 21 campus community members self-reported positive COVID-19 tests during the week ending on Oct. 4. It also reported a 0 percent positivity rate during the same timeframe among those tested through sentinel testing.

Auburn University tested 399 people through the sentinel testing program last week. A total of 2,297 Auburn students, faculty and staff have been tested through the program since it began.

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.

Auburn City Schools

The number of new reported COVID-19 cases within Auburn City Schools is on the decline

The school system reported three cases of COVID-19 to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) during the week of Oct. 5-9. An additional 11 students and staff members were quarantined due to potential close-contact exposure, Auburn City Schools said in a Sunday news release.

Last week’s numbers were slightly lower compared to the previous week’s numbers. Auburn City Schools reported five confirmed virus cases during the week of Sept. 28-Oct. 2. An additional 35 students and staff members were quarantined during the same timeframe due to potential close-contact exposure.

Auburn City Schools continues to ask parents and guardians of students to be the first line of defense against the spread of COVID-19 by screening their student(s) daily for virus symptoms.

Local numbers

The number of new COVID-19 cases reported per day in east Alabama counties were on the rise in many east Alabama counties during the weekend, according to ADPH data.

ADPH reported 16 new virus cases in Chambers County, 70 in Lee County, 12 in Macon County, 32 in Russell County and 21 in Tallapoosa County from Friday to Monday.

The average number of new COVID-19 cases reported each day during the past two weeks rose in Chambers, Macon, Russell and Tallapoosa counties on Monday. Lee County was the only east Alabama county to see its average decline.

Chambers County averaged about 5.78 new cases on Friday and averaged 6 new cases on Monday.

Macon County’s average rose from about 1.93 on Friday to about 2.57 on Monday.

Russell County’s average rose from about 6.78 new virus cases on Friday to about 8.29 cases on Monday.

Tallapoosa County averaged about 4.71 new cases on Friday and about 5.07 on Monday, according to ADPH data.

Lee County continues to average the most new COVID-19 cases reported in the past two weeks among east Alabama counties, despite its average dropping.

The county is averaging about 27 new virus cases during the past two weeks, down from Friday’s average of about 28.5 cases.

There were 4,150 confirmed cases and 2,185 probable cases for a combined total of 6,335 cases in Lee County as of Tuesday night, according to ADPH.

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 – 925 confirmed, 329 probable, 1,254 combined
  • Macon County – 458 confirmed, 61 probable, 519 combined
  • Russell County – 1,705 confirmed, 118 probable, 1,823 combined
  • Tallapoosa County – 1,036 confirmed, 197 probable, 1,233 combined

There were 147,083 confirmed virus cases and 20,110 probable cases as of Tuesday in Alabama. The combined total of COVID-19 cases was 167,193.

There were 2,509 confirmed deaths and 156 probable deaths in the state as well, according to ADPH.

Of the 2,436 reported deaths in Alabama, 40 are from Chambers County, 50 from Lee County, 16 from Macon County, three from Russell County and 84 from Tallapoosa County.

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