Though confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 16 in Lawrence County this week, according to data reported by the Alabama Department of Public Health, that number may not accurately portray recoveries or cases of residents who live within the county border.
As of press-time Wednesday, ADPH reported four new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Lawrence County since last Thursday, but Lawrence County Coroner Scott Norwood said that number does not accurately represent the number of active coronavirus cases in the county, which may be down to only two confirmed cases.
According to Norwood, who also serves as the interim 911 director for Lawrence, his data showed 16 confirmed positives among Lawrence County residents on Tuesday when ADPH was still only reporting 14 total cases for the county. Norwood said ADPH has four of those earlier cases listed in Morgan County’s numbers due to the individual’s physical address.
“There are four Lawrence County citizens who have a Trinity address, but their homes actually lie within Lawrence County’s jurisdiction,” he explained.
In addition to the four Trinity cases, Norwood listed five confirmed cases for Moulton, three in Town Creek, two confirmed cases in Hillsboro, and one each in Mt. Hope and Courtland, on Tuesday.
Of the 16 confirmed cases, Norwood said only two are still under quarantine. He said the two cases were each confirmed Sunday—one each in Moulton and Courtland. The Moulton case is instructed to self-isolate until May 15, and the Courtland case has a quarantine expiration date of May 17.
As interim 911 director, Norwood is instructed to flag each household within the county’s 911 directory who has a confirmed positive patient residing there. His data also reflects each household’s quarantine expiration date, or the date projecting the end of the infection.
Town Creek Police Chief Jerry Garrett said of those two active cases in Lawrence County, at least one additional case may be added to Town Creek’s numbers after a resident in his jurisdiction received positive test results on Monday this week.
Garret said the resident’s case number may not had not yet been added to the state data as of Tuesday and was likely not accounted for in Norwood’s cases count by that time, but the resident has been advised to remain quarantined until at least May 17.
According to state guidelines, those who test positive for COVID-19 are instructed to remain quarantined for at least 14 days, or until they are fever and symptom-free for at least 24 hours.
Norwood’s data shows that at least 14 cases in Lawrence County had passed their quarantine expiration date as of May 2, with several cases reaching that expiration date as early as April 9.
“We haven’t had any confirmed deaths in Lawrence County since we began tracking cases,” Norwood added.
As of Friday, no COVID-19 hospitalizations had been reported at Lawrence Medical Center, according to the hospital’s CEO Dean Griffin.
“LMC has had no COVID-19 positive inpatients and no COVID-19 positive employees during this virus spread,” he said in a statement last week.
Since Gov. Kay Ivey released the Alabama Safer at Home order on April 28, Griffin said the hospital resumed all elective and surgical procedures, including outpatient surgery, endoscopy, colonoscopy, all imaging procedures, physical and occupational therapy, and laboratory testing and procedures, on Friday, May 1.
Under the new order, the hospital will continue to maintain its no visitation policy, with limited flexibility for end-of-life patients or caregiver support, Griffin added.
“We will maintain social distancing of six feet throughout the hospital and particularly in our waiting areas. Some patients may be asked to remain in their car and called when it is time for them to enter the hospital,” he said. “All patients entering the hospital will be screened using a list of questions to determine if they have COVID-19 related symptoms and will be screened for temperature.”
Griffin said all staff members will continue wearing masks and all patients entering the hospital or its clinics must wear masks. Patients coming to the hospital will be provided a mask on entry if they do not already have one, said Griffin.
“Clinics have maintained regular hours and will continue to do so,” he said. “Clinics continue telehealth as needed, but can begin seeing more patients in clinics but must follow practices related to distancing, masking, disinfecting, etc.”
“We encourage people to see their provider or go to the (Emergency Department) if they are in need of care. We do not want them to avoid appropriate care and risk their health or worsening conditions.”
Griffin said those seeking COVID-19 testing are encouraged to visit the Urgent Care Clinic in Moulton. Those who seek testing should call ahead before arriving for test collection.
The Lawrence County Health Department is also continuing to serve as a test-collection site each Tuesday and Thursday. The department takes samples from symptomatic patients by appointment only.
Those who seek testing at the Lawrence County Health Department are strongly urged to call ahead, according to ADPH Area Administrator Judy Smith. Only qualifying patients who are symptomatic with a fever greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit will be tested.
Testing is free and available to qualifying patients who are 19 years or older, said Smith.
A referral from the patient’s regular physician is recommended, according to further ADPH guidelines.
Once a qualifying patient arrives at the Health Department, a staff member will meet the individual at their vehicle to perform a nasal swab. Patients who are tested at a Lawrence County facility will be notified of their results when they are received.
As of Wednesday, 386 tests had been conducted in Lawrence County, with 106,003 tested statewide, ADPH reported.
Confirmed cases for Alabama reached 8,437, and total deaths in persons who had contracted the coronavirus in Alabama had reached 315, according to ADPH data. The state health department stopped separating confirmed deaths and the total number of reported COVID-19 deaths about two weeks ago.
For daily updated statistics from ADPH, visit http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/index.html.