Category: Health Care
UAB epidemiologist Dr. Rachael Lee today said that Alabamians will have to exercise personal responsibility to keep the state’s increasing COVID-19 infections from overwhelming the health care system.
Lee said that the increasing number of positive cases is “concerning,” particularly as the state increasingly relaxes restrictions and as the number of tests administered remains steady. Alabama is one of several states being watched because the number of confirmed positive cases of the potentially deadly viral infection are going up.
Lee held UAB’s weekly coronavirus press conference the day after the largest single day increase in coronavirus cases in the state. She addressed a wide range of questions during the more than 45-minute-long press conference, dealing largely with the spike in cases, hospitals’ nearing capacity in some areas, how the coronavirus differs from the flu, remdesivir, the feared second wave and the ongoing need for personal protective measures. Read more.
Gov. Kay Ivey has once again loosened restrictions on Alabama businesses, allowing the reopening of entertainment venues, child care facilities, student activities and educational institutions. Ivey’s “Amended Safer at Home” order, issued Thursday afternoon, will go into effect Friday at 5 p.m.
At a press conference announcing the order, Ivey cited economic stressors, such as a spike in unemployment, as a reason for easing restrictions.
She added: “You’ve got to have a balance between looking after the people’s health and the economic health. There has to be a balance.”
Alabama hospitals lost about $739 million in revenue from mid-March to the end of April because of the coronavirus outbreak, according to data collected by the Alabama Hospital Association.
The state’s 93 acute care hospitals had $101 million in COVID-related expenses, including personal protection equipment, in the seven-week period.
“Obviously, that’s not sustainable,” Alabama Hospital Association President and CEO Dr. Don Williamson told Alabama Daily News. He previously served as Alabama’s state health officer.
A recent survey by the Alabama Nursing Association shows that nurses on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle have been concerned about a lack of personal protection equipment, their own health, taking the virus home to their families and having the needed time to spend with patients isolated from their loved ones.
Others, furloughed by public health orders that stopped elective surgeries and procedures, worried about paying their bills and even their own health insurance. Read more.
Acknowledging the balancing act between protecting the health of citizens and the health of the economy, Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson on Friday expressed concern about the state’s relaxing of restrictions put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Wilson did not issue a new emergency order for the county, but he issued a strong recommendation that people in Jefferson County refrain from having public gatherings of greater than 10 people, including worship services, for at least another two weeks after this weekend. He said he wants to see the effect of the governor’s new order.
The new Proceeding With Caution order, which Gov. Kay Ivey announced Friday morning, allows restaurants, bars, athletic facilities and close-contact service providers such as nail salons and barber shops to reopen starting Monday. It also lifts the 10-person cap on non-work gatherings, but it stresses that people must maintain six feet between themselves and others from different households while in public. The new order expires May 22.
“We’re going to be opening a lot of things,” he said. “I’m very concerned that we could start to see an increase in disease.”
He wasn’t the only voice calling for caution as the state starts to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Other health care officials and government leaders expressed concern, most of them saying they also understand the need to get people back to work. Read more.
Remdesivir, a drug developed through a federal grant to UAB, may be the first effective therapy for treating severely ill COVID-19 patients, early analysis of a large federally sponsored study found this week.
The drug reduced hospital stays by one-third and produced fewer adverse side effects, according to two UAB doctors who participated in the international trial.
Paul Goepfert, the UAB doctor who headed UAB’s participation in the placebo-controlled study, said the drug would become “standard of care” for coronavirus patients. An associate called the study “extraordinary.” And Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, under the National Institute of Health, said the findings are a “very important proof of concept.” Read more.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Southern Research of Birmingham will be part of an international program that will try to identify existing drugs that may be effective in treating people exposed to COVID-19.
The effort, coordinated by Scripps Research of La Jolla, California, involves ReFRAME, a large collection of drugs developed for other diseases and known to be safe for humans, UAB said today.
An Alabama National Guard team was disinfecting at the Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home this morning as part of a mission to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus at nursing homes around the state.
The team, part of a special Guard task force, arrived in a white bus at the Pell City-based facility, one of four state veterans homes in Alabama. The Howard facility has 246 residents and 346 employees.
UPDATED — As Gov. Kay Ivey eases her COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, stores, beaches and medical procedures, the question that remains for some is – is it time to reopen Alabama?
Ivey, who announced a “Safer At Home” strategy that will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday, has had advice from those who are primarily concerned about health outcomes of the coronavirus and those who consider economics – the loss of jobs, the shuttering of businesses – just as important, if not more.
Although the team has reached the decision to begin reopening – while leaving some businesses, including restaurants and athletic facilities – not all in the state agree that it’s time to reopen. Read more.
LOCATION UPDATED — UAB will provide testing for COVID-19 in two community locations this week, offering the tests for people who cannot or don’t want to go to its downtown testing site, officials said today.
A mobile testing unit will go to Rock City at Central Park in the western area of Birmingham on Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. and to Cathedral of the Cross in Center Point on Friday from 1 to 3 p.m. They will see people who have made appointments by calling 205-975-CV19 (2819). Participants must drive up to the mobile facility this week, but walk-up appointments are expected to start as early as next week. Read more.