Category: Coronavirus

Volunteers Step Up to Face the Challenges of the Pandemic

Efforts in Birmingham to thwart the spread of COVID-19 stretch from volunteer organizations that have stitched more than 18,500 cloth face masks to tech companies and businesses using prototyping, fabrication and 3D printers to create face shields and ventilator adaptors, as well as prototypes for portable intensive care units.

As Jack’s restaurants CEO Todd Bartmess said, “In the South, we take care of each other.”

See some of the things organizations, companies, service groups and individuals are doing to help those affected by the pandemic.
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COVID-19’s Radical Climb in Alabama

Just four weeks ago, Alabama had not been touched by the novel coronavirus.

But on March 13, the state had its first two confirmed cases of the disease. In less than two weeks, by the time the state had its first death, the case count had topped 500.

By April 1, cases topped 1,000 and 26 people had died. Within three days, more than 1,500 cases had been confirmed and two days after that, cases topped 2,000.

On Thursday, three days later, cases are up to 2,703; 70 people have died; and 333 people have been hospitalized since that first case was confirmed, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s COVID-10 data and surveillance dashboard.

The situation in the state is forecast to get worse before it gets better. Read more.

UAB in International Trial of Inhaled Nitric Oxide for Ventilated COVID-19 Patients

UAB doctors hope a low-risk, FDA-approved drug to be tested at UAB Hospital will serve as a “rescue therapy” for ventilated patients with lungs seriously damaged by the coronavirus, COVID-19.

UAB is among the first in the nation to offer inhaled nitric oxide as a potential viable treatment in its intensive care unit for the sickest of these patients, officials said in a telephone news conference today.

Nitric oxide is a colorless gas that is known to improve oxygen supply to injured tissues. It not only is used to help failing lungs, but it also exhibited antiviral effects against the SARS coronavirus during that 2003 epidemic. Since SARS is similar to the current pandemic infection, Dr. Pankaj Arora of UAB said hopes are that the same will be true with COVID-19.

Arora, assistant professor in UAB’s division of cardiovascular disease, will lead the UAB trial, part of an eight-center international effort that includes Harvard University/Massachusetts General Hospital and LSU Medical Center-Shreveport, three other centers in this country and two international centers. Read more.

Confirmed COVID-19 Case in Veterans Home

About 700 veterans live in the state’s four veterans homes, and one of them has now tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

“Currently, the veteran’s symptoms are improving and the veteran continues to be cared for in isolation,” the state Department of Veterans Affairs stated today in a news release.

The veteran who tested positive is 77 years old and lives at the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City. Read more.

Blacks Make Up Disproportionate Percentage of COVID-19 Deaths

Blacks make up a minority of the population of Alabama, but they account for more than half the number of people who have died of COVID-19 in the state, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The department on Wednesday reported that 61 people who tested positive for the disease have died, and 48 of the deaths were confirmed to be the result of COVID-19. Officials were verifying whether the remaining 13 died from the coronavirus.

The figures covered reports through Tuesday, April 7.

The racial breakdown of the 48 who were confirmed to have died of the virus showed that 52.1% were black; 37.5% were white; 7.7% were Asian; and the rest were of unknown race.
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Working at Home with Kids: How the Pandemic is Changing the Work-Life Balance

While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people apart, it has also created a common ground for millions — by making many work from home.

For some workers who are also parents, functioning in the home office environment has brought a particular challenge into focus: managing the job and the kids at the same time.

To get some perspective on how big a deal this might be, consider this: two years ago, it was estimated that 3.6 percent of the American workforce was working at home — 5 million people, according to, drawing its conclusions from the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Since the coronavirus pandemic prompted office closures and other social distancing measures, even more people have retreated to their home offices. How many? One estimate has 56% of the workforce with jobs compatible with remote work.
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Farm Product Prices Fall Amid Pandemic, but No Shortage in Food Pipeline

Alabama’s 33,000-member agriculture workforce continues to operate as essential, but the coronavirus has impacted how much some will get paid for their work.

“Crops still have to get in the ground, cattle have to be doctored,” Brady Ragland, a commodity director for Alabama Farmers Federation, told Alabama Daily News. “Those activities have to go on.”

Some agriculture enterprises — such as farmers markets and cattle auctions — have shifted online where possible because of the coronavirus. But even before the pandemic, farmers were bracing for a tough year.

“Farm income is expected to be considerably lower,” Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture Rick Pate said last week. “Commodity prices including cotton, corn, milk and live cattle have fallen significantly. The coronavirus outbreak has affected commodity prices across the board and is likely to do so for several months.” Read more.