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EAMC hits all-time high for COVID-19 hospitalizations

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East Alabama Medical Center reached an all-time high of 96 hospitalized COVID patients on Sunday, and that number remained the same on Monday.

The previous high for COVID hospitalizations was 93 on Sept. 4.

On Thursday, the COVID patient count increased by 15 to reach a peak high of 87 before dropping to 80 on Saturday. On Sunday, hospitalizations jumped 16 notches to reach a record high since the pandemic hit the area in 2019.

Over the holiday weekend, the hospital's drive-through testing facility saw 335 patients with 154 testing positive for a 46 percent positivity rate. The moving 7-day positivity rate for Alabama is 42.6 percent, while Lee County’s is 44.2 percent.

East Alabama Health will continue to host COVID-19 drive-through testing this week for people who are symptomatic. It will take place Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Appointment scheduling begins one day in advance of each testing day, but some same-day testing appointments may be available. Appointments may be made by calling the hospital's Call Center at 334-528-4YOU (4968).  

Meanwhile, Auburn City Schools and Opelika City Schools announced that students, faculty and staff would be required to wear masks when they returned to school on Tuesday after the MLK holiday.

Dr. Ann Shannon, East Alabama Health’s chief of staff, said in a video Thursday that more than 120 employees at the hospital are out due to COVID-19 infection, and that many of them are nurses and “very key support staff in patient care.” She also said that elective surgeries were being postponed and that EAMC was not able to accept the usual patient transfers from other facilities.

“We have at some times been so full in our emergency department that we’ve asked ambulances to divert their services routing patients to other services for care,” she said.

“Our employees and our physicians are working tirelessly to take care of every patient in our facility and anyone who walks through our doors,” Shannon said.

Since Christmas, East Alabama Health officials have been pleading with people experiencing COVID symptoms not to go to their emergency departments for testing, and these pleas have become increasingly urgent.

On Thursday, Shannon increased the intensity of the message.

“We need your help,” she said. “If you begin having mild COVID symptoms just assume you have COVID, you likely do. Do not use our emergency department. We are currently overrun, and we do not have the staff to get to you quickly and timely.”


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