As of Thursday, July 2 at 8 a.m., the Alabama Department of Public Health reported 1,189 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Lee County and 37 confirmed COVID-19 deaths. Throughout the state, 38,442 cases have been confirmed and 947 deaths are confirmed to be a result of the illness.
East Alabama Medical Center President and CEO Laura Grill is again asking for the community’s help to slow the spread of COVID-19, as it did in April when cases were peaking locally. She is asking the community to slow the spread by social distancing, wearing masks in public and practicing good hand hygiene. These three practices can help COVID-19 hospitalizations at EAMC remain manageable and can be vitally important over the July 4 holiday weekend.
What should I do if I think I'm sick?
The East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) advises people having MILD symptoms to treat COVID-19 similarly to the seasonal flu except not to use ibuprofen. Isolate yourself from family and friends and speak with a pharmacist about which over-the-counter medicines are best for you.
If you feel you need medical attention, contact your primary care physician or another local provider. If your medical provider determines a COVID-19 test is warranted, they will collect the specimen there and submit it to the Alabama Department of Public Health or to an independent lab. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, and/or sore throat.
If the physician's office is out of supplies or does not have the ability to collect, you can call 334-528-SICK (7425) for an evaluation. Calls to 334-528-SICK should be used only when exhibiting the COVID-19 symptoms and possible emergent care is needed. A call to 334-528-SICK does not guarantee a COVID-19 specimen will be collected and submitted for testing. Instead, patients will be screened on the phone. If the medical provider on the phone determines a COVID-19 test is warranted, directions will be provided to go to EAMC's drive-through collection center.
The hours for 334-528-SICK are:
- Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Closed Saturdays and Sundays
EAMC’s 528-SICK call center was open 24/7 in March and April, but scaled back its hours when COVID-19 cases in east Alabama slowed in May and early June. The hours could change again if the demand continues to increase. The number of calls and tests has increased each of the past three weeks and is on track to do so again this week.
What preventative measures can I take?
View the amended Safer at Home order issued by Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health for social distancing rules and guidelines for staying at home. The order is effective through July 31.
View the hospital's cloth mask guidelines here.
Health officials are asking that everyone please shelter in place at home, naming this action as the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19. Sheltering in place means you stay at home with immediate family members only and do not leave your home except for essential activities such as food, medical care or work. You should not host gatherings of people outside of your immediate family. These gatherings are part of everyday life and may seem harmless, but continuing to participate in such events will allow COVID-19 to spread further throughout the community and infect the most vulnerable among us. When you must go out, you should maintain a six-foot distance from other people as much as possible, wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each time and frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces.
Blood & plasma donations
Plasma donations: East Alabama Medical Center and LifeSouth Community Blood Centers are partnering by participating in a national clinical trial that would help COVID-19 patients recover more quickly. EAMC officials are encouraging residents who had a confirmed case of COVID-19 to contact LifeSouth to determine if they are eligible to donate plasma that would be especially helpful to patients in the ICU. The plasma from recovered patients contain antibodies, which are proteins in the blood. Preliminary studies show these antibodies can be helpful by lessening the severity of the case. There is no charge to donate plasma for this trial and each donation can benefit 2-3 patients.
Recovered COVID-19 patients who are interested must meet the following criteria:
- A laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.
- Complete recovery, i.e. no symptoms without fever- or symptom-reducing medication for at least 14 days before the donation.
- If it has been fewer than 28 days since completion of symptoms, donors must have a documented negative result by one or more nasal swab specimens or a molecular diagnostic blood test. If neither of these tests was performed, a positive antibody test confirming the patient has COVID-19 antibodies is acceptable.
Eligible donors should register here, and LifeSouth will contact those who register directly. For questions regarding donation, email [email protected] or call 888-795-2707. Let them know you are donating to East Alabama Medical Center.
Blood donations: EAMC receives 100 percent of its blood supply from the LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, with the vast majority coming from the blood center on the main EAMC campus (505 E. Thomason Circle, Opelika). The blood supply in America is facing an unprecedented challenge due to COVID-19. Large numbers of blood drives are being canceled daily, and donors are increasingly practicing social distancing, as they should. Hospitals are likely to see critical shortages of blood products occur in the near term if the trajectory does not change. While shortages are not severe today, a critical blood shortage of all blood types will occur if donations simply stop.
If you are healthy and able, EAMC is encouraging the community to call the local LifeSouth office at 334-705-0884 to schedule an appointment. LifeSouth is limiting the number of donors in the center at one time so as to keep donors and staff at appropriate distances. They are doing the same at their blood drive buses. Below are LifeSouth’s hours of operation:
- Monday and Thursday: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Saturday: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
- Sunday: 12 – 5 p.m.
Thanks to the generosity of the community and the decrease in COVID-19 cases, as of April 17, EAMC is currently stable on all supplies. The support of the community has helped EAMC through what it hopes was the peak of the pandemic in east Alabama.
EAMC has said that donations of cloth masks are needed for nursing homes. The CDC has released new recommendations for residents in nursing homes to wear masks when receiving care or outside of their rooms. If you are interested in donating cloth/ear loop masks for the residents of Oak Park and EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home, please deliver them to the Main Lobby entrance at EAMC and they will be sent to these locations. The nursing homes have about 200 combined residents, and they would like for each resident to have several masks.