East Alabama Medical Center officials are beginning to feel more optimistic about the overall COVID-19 hospitalization trend after having less than 50 patients for the first time since July 18.
There were 49 COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Thursday and 52 were hospitalized Friday. Additionally, there were 13 COVID-19 patients on ventilators, the highest total since at least June 15, according to hospital data.
EAMC feels that the overall downward trend is in part due to Alabama’s mask mandate
“We feel like this could be the trend we have been waiting on since the mask mandate went into effect on July 16,” John Atkinson, EAMC spokesman, said. “Knowing the mask mandate has been extended through August 31 gives us hope that the virus can once again become somewhat contained.”
Although EAMC feels that it may be in a good place when it comes to COVID-19 patients, Atkinson said hospital officials are still faced with many unknowns.
“There are still many unknowns at play with schools at every level returning in August and the uncertainty of how athletics at various levels could impact the level of disease in the community,” he said.
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) continues to confirm new COVID-19 cases in east Alabama counties.
There were 806 confirmed cases in Chambers County, 2,430 in Lee County, 300 in Macon County, 1,161 in Russell County and 708 in Tallapoosa County as of Friday evening, according to ADPH.
Although down, Lee County still is averaging the most new COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks in east Alabama with about 35 new cases per day, according to ADPH data.
The following is the average number of new cases confirmed in east Alabama counties over the past 14 days:
- Chambers County — 6
- Macon County — 4
- Russell County — 21
- Tallapoosa County — 8
Lee and Russell counties remained a high-risk county in the latest COVID-19 county risk map produced by ADPH, which was released Friday afternoon. Tallapoosa County moved from a moderate-risk county to a very high-risk county.
Macon County moved from a moderate-risk county to a high-risk county. Chambers County remained a moderate-risk county
The classification comes from the 14-day average of new cases in the county.
There were 81,572 confirmed cases and 1,531 virus-related deaths in Alabama as of Friday night, according to ADPH.
Of the 1,531 reported deaths, 38 are from Chambers County, 40 from Lee County, 12 from Macon County, one from Russell County and 78 from Tallapoosa County.
EAMC plans to continue to update the public when it comes to how COVID-19 is affecting the hospitals.
“It was clear from the very beginning that COVID-19 could easily impact one area of the nation or state, but not others,” EAMC said. “If our community only heard statewide statistics on COVID-19 in March and April, that would not have been a complete picture. East Alabama had widespread cases then, while Montgomery was pretty quiet. In May, it was just the opposite.”
Atkinson added that the hospital could only report on how things are locally and will continue to report statistics.
“We will continue to provide local statistics and information, but we will not enter into a debate on science,” he said. “We will leave the science of treatment up to our trusted medical professionals here who are leading our efforts.”
EAMC reminds returning college students that they cannot be tested by going through its 334-528-SICK call center. The hotline is strictly for people who are currently exhibiting symptoms of the virus or those who have been in direct or close contact with a known positive.
“Instead, there are dedicated testing sites for this requirement located around the state, including one at Beard-Eaves Coliseum on the AU campus, and testing will begin Monday, Aug. 3,” a news release from EAMC reads. “However, students must have an appointment to be tested.”