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ADPH responds to COVID-19

Alabama Public of Health spoke about the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Scott Harris, M.D., M.P.H., state health officer, provided the update via a press conference held at the state house on Mon.

Harris assured the general public that the state of Ala. is prepared for any potential outbreaks across the state.

Currently, there are no confirmed cases. “We do not have COVID-19 infections in our state,” Harris said.

“So far in Alabama we have monitored over 100 people that have returned to the state from China,” he added.

With many individuals returning to the state from overseas travel, Harris said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing up-to-date information about how to monitor patients and contain the virus.

“We receive notices daily of people returning to our state from the CDC,” Harris said. Once back home, these individuals are required to go through a process of self-monitoring along with the ADPH.

“We have encouraged them to practice social distancing and home monitoring.

We check in with them everyday. Most of them have completed 14 days of monitoring and we have no need to follow up with them.

We have less than 10 people that were tested for COVID-19,” Harris shared.

“All the tests that we have ordered have all been negative. We feel very comfortable to say we have no virus at this time,” Harris continued.

Brian Hastings, director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, and Donald E. Williamson, M.D., President/CEO, Alabama Hospital Association, joined Harris during the press conference.

Both Hastings and Williamson have experience working and preparing healthcare officials with potential disease outbreaks.

As reported by the ADPH, hospital staff are trained to isolate and evaluate persons with respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

“Emergency care and responses are not new. Our hospitals have these plans on a regular basis. We are informed to screen patients that show signs,” Williamson said.

Hastings encouraged everyone to proactively prepare for the virus.

“There are 2 people that will make the differences –its you and the other people around you. You need to wash your hands. Practice social isolation and social distancing and I think that will help Alabama stay healthy,” Hastings explained.

According to the ADPH, if a person suspects having COVID-19 or any other urgent health situation, people are to seek medical care right away. Persons, however, are asked to call ahead and notify staff about recent travel and symptoms before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room. No test or treatment for COVID-19 is available at doctors’ offices or urgent cares. Patients who need to be hospitalized are those that will be tested.

The following are steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 for people with symptoms:

-Stay home except to get medical care

Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home

-Call ahead before visiting your doctor

-Cover your coughs and sneezes

-Clean your hands often

-Avoid sharing personal household items

-Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day

-Monitor your symptoms

-With a medical emergency when calling 911, notify the dispatcher about your condition

The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask.  To help prevent the spread of the infection to others, facemask may be worn if people show symptoms of COVID-19. The use of facemasks, however, is crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings.
This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and ADPH will provide updated information as it becomes available, in addition to updated guidance. More information can be found by clicking “Coronavirus” on the home page of alabamapublichealth.gov.