IT’S OFFICIALLY HERE: FIRST CORONAVIRUS CASE CONFIRMED IN ALABAMA
The Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed the first official case of coronavirus in the state this morning.
ADPH State Health Officer Scott Harris made the announcement at 10 a.m. this morning, saying it’s been expected for some time now. Alabama has been testing for the virus for just over a week, Harris said.
“We had a sample submitted to us Thursday afternoon,” he said. “It was tested overnight and at about 8 a.m. this morning we learned the test was positive.”
The unnamed patient is a resident of Montgomery County, Harris said, who recently traveled to a state with cases of coronavirus. The patient told their doctor they felt unwell upon returning home. Since then, they’ve isolated themselves at home.
Harris said it’s important that all Alabamians practice safe hygiene and avoid crowded spaces so the virus does not spread.
“The absolute number of people at a gathering is probably less important than the distance between people,” Harris said.
The Alabama Department of Public Health encourages residents to practice social distancing. That means you should remain more than 6 feet apart from people, particularly in crowds, to minimize the risk of transmission.
In addition, proper hygiene is crucial. General rules of thumb include:
- Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds with soap before rinsing with water
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Avoid touching your face
- Stay home if you feel unwell
If you have symptoms:
- Isolate yourself at home and avoid being out in public
- Be especially careful about being around people who are at high risk, such as the elderly or people with chronic health problems or compromised immune systems
If you want a test:
- Testing requests will now be automatically approved
- Visit your doctor and ask for a coronavirus test
- Turnaround for the test averages 24 to 72 hours
For parents concerned about their children in school, Harris said that while field trips and large gatherings like sports events have been canceled, school is continuing as normal for Alabama’s public K-12 schools. Students who are ill are encouraged to stay home, and students or faculty who have been to areas with a disease outbreak should self-quarantine for 14 days, according to ADPH.
Several colleges around the state, including the University of Alabama and Auburn University, have extended spring break and are moving classes online for the time-being.
Many nursing homes around the state have made temporary changes to their visitation policies. Some are screening visitors on arrival for symptoms while others have halted visitation entirely.
“We think that that’s a prudent policy, given that the residents of our nursing facilities are those most at risk for serious illness,” Harris said.
Watch the full news conference, and read Ivey’s statement below.
MONTGOMERY – Governor Kay Ivey on Friday, upon learning of Alabama’s first confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19) case, released the following statement:
“Along with my fellow Alabamians, I have closely monitored the rapidly changing events regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As a state, we have taken precautionary measures and made preparations in the case that the virus would eventually reach our state. As I have emphasized time and again, the safety and health of Alabamians is paramount.
“Alabamians are smart and savvy, and I know they will continue taking appropriate precautions to prevent the spread to themselves or others. We have taken a calm and collected approach in preparation for this first confirmed case, and we need to remember that calm and steady wins the race. Alabamians should not be fearful, but instead, use commonsense to watch out for themselves and others. We will remain engaged on the matter and continue prioritizing the health and wellbeing of all Alabamians.
“I am grateful to the work of State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, as well as the members of my Coronavirus Task Force and countless individuals who are also watching and working on this situation closely.”
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris: “The Alabama Department of Public Health has worked hard to prepare and has anticipated receiving a report of the first case of COVID-19 in an Alabama resident. We continue to recommend that people be prudent and encourage them to use proper hygiene behaviors such as handwashing, not touching their faces with unwashed hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if they have fever. As a precaution, it is suggested that any gatherings of more than 500 people be postponed or canceled.”
Dr. Scott Harris and the Alabama Department of Public Health will host a webcast press conference to give further details this morning at 10:00 a.m.