Lawrence County’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus was posted Wednesday evening, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health website.
Confirmed cases had risen to 449 across the state by Thursday morning, with Limestone reporting 10 confirmed cases, Morgan and Lauderdale each had seven confirmed, and Franklin had two.
Lawrence Medical Center CEO Dean Griffin said the single case in Lawrence was not found among those tested at the hospital, its emergency room, or LMC’s Urgent Care Clinic.
“We don’t know where that one is from or where they were tested,” he said Thursday morning. “If somebody from Lawrence County goes over to Huntsville and gets tested over there, then it shows up in the Lawrence numbers.”
Lawrence Medical Center began serving as a test collection site for COVID-19 on Monday. Samples collected at LMC and at the Urgent Care Clinic are sent to Montgomery for testing.
As of Thursday morning, Griffin said about 10 tests had been returned, and they each had come back negative.
He said the hospital requested additional testing kits after the first case was confirmed, but said state labs are struggling to keep up with demand.
“If an individual is not experiencing symptoms, they do not need to be tested,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is test those that are most vulnerable right now. There’s a list of things that make people more vulnerable, like diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, or if an individual is immunocompromised. You really don’t need to be tested unless you are exhibiting symptoms and you meet one of those other criteria.”
Patients being tested at the Medical Center on Hospital Street in Moulton must have an order from a physician or a nurse practitioner, Griffin announced earlier this week.
Individuals who are showing symptoms of coronavirus—which include high fever, shortness of breath and cough—and have an order from their physician, can drive to the end of the hospital near Dr. Gillespie’s and Dr. Hall’s offices where a tent is set up.
For individuals without a regular physician, Griffin advised them to seek testing at the hospital’s Urgent Care Clinic on Alabama 157 in Moulton. He said those who seek testing for the coronavirus are strongly urged to call the clinic before arriving.
Griffin said those who believe they may have been exposed to the virus should not immediately seek testing.
“The best thing to do is self-quarantine, and if they start to exhibit symptoms, then call their health provider or go to a testing site,” he said. “People need to continue to practice social distancing and washing hands every 20 minutes. People are starting to get mixed messages about whether things are getting better or worse, and I know people are probably a little bit impatient at this point. The best thing to do is continue following those guidelines.”
Governor Kay Ivey confirmed Alabama’s first death from the virus on Wednesday. The patient was a resident of Jackson County.
As of Thursday, the state had performed 4,082 tests, ADPH reported. For updated information specific to coronavirus cases in Alabama, visit the ADPH webpage at www.alabamapublichealth.gov/infectiousdiseases/2019-coronavirus.html.