• 17 privately run hospitals have closed in Alabama since 2010, seven in rural areas.
• 88% of rural hospitals operate in the red.
• 36 counties have only one hospital, seven have no hospitals.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t hit its peak in Alabama yet, and when it does, it could be a major disaster for the state’s health care infrastruc-ture, according to Dr. Donald Williamson.
“I’m seeing this whole thing as a tsunami,” he said. “Right now, for most of the state, we’re in that pre-tsunami period where the water is actually being pulled out to sea and everything looks quiet. I think you’re already beginning to see the tip of the tsunami in Birmingham and other places, and I think the tsunami will over the next several weeks and months wash over the state, causing great devastation to our health care sys-tem.”
As president and CEO of the Alabama Hospital Association, Williamson has watched Alabama’s medical infrastructure deteriorate over the past 10 years. Read more.
The opening of new COVID-19 testing sites this week brings the number of places where tests are available in the Birmingham area to more than two dozen.
Testing is available for people who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, who have had significant exposure to someone with the disease or whose employer requires screening.
See a list of screening sites and how to contact each.
Birmingham will provide hazard pay to select city employees during the COVID-19 crisis, the City Council decided Tuesday.
Mayor Randall Woodfin told councilors that the pay increase, which will last for one month, will go to 1,978 city employees “that engage in some form or shape with the public.”
That includes 922 police and corrections officers; 607 fire and rescue service employees; 220 public works employees; 100 planning, engineering and permits employees; 90 municipal court employees; 29 finance department employees; and 10 City Hall security officers employed by the mayor’s office. Read more.
Alabama has recorded 55 deaths of people who tested positive for COVID-19, the state Department of Public Health, reported today. Updated figures show that 39 of those deaths have been officially attributed to the disease, with the remaining 16 still under investigation.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state stood at 2,089.
Jefferson County led with 449 confirmed cases of the disease. The county has recorded 11 deaths of patients who tested positive, with five of those confirmed to be from COVID-19.
Alabama has logged 2,006 cases of COVID-19 and 32 confirmed deaths, according to Monday night updates from the Alabama Department of Public Health. Officials are investigating another 21 deaths of people who had been diagnosed with the virus, which could push the state’s death toll to 53. Read more.
Alabama has seen a record number of unemployment claims because of the coronavirus. The state Department of Labor is trying to keep up. Read more.
The spread of the new coronavirus, the resulting strain on hospitals and the possible infusion of federal relief money is rekindling talks of expanding the state’s Medicaid program
For 10 years Alabama has resisted expanding its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, mostly on fiscal grounds. Some estimates show expanding the program to include 360,000 more residents would cost the state about $170 million in the first year alone, with increasing costs going forward.
However, now the state could be in receipt of funds to lighten that bill. The coronavirus economic relief package known as the CARES Act contained $150 billion to help states and local governments recover from the financial impact of the outbreak and specifically included provisions to help states shore up their Medicaid programs. Analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows Alabama coffers could receive as much as $1.7 billion, though much of that is likely to be earmarked toward specific programs.
The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 1,841 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, with 231 people hospitalized.
Confirmed deaths from the disease stood at 31, with health officials investigating another 14 deaths of people who had been diagnosed with the virus. Read more.
Tom Gordon walked through a nearly empty Railroad Park. The usually bustling park, along with other parks in the city, is under threat of closure if people do not abide by rules set to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Parkgoers are allowed to use the park for solitary exercise but cannot linger, sit or gather with others.
Roy Brook of Bessemer stood with the flag for two hours Friday morning at the eastern end of Railroad Park. Brook said he was expressing his solidarity with his fellow Alabamians and countrymen and expressing his optimism that the country will meet the challenge of the COVID-19 virus. Read more.