ADPH head gives coronavirus update, stresses only people with symptoms need testing
Dr. Scott Harris, head of the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), held a press conference Monday where he stressed that only Alabamians with COVID-19 symptoms should feel the need to get tested.
The three most cited symptoms of the coronavirus are fever, cough and shortness of breath.
“We do not need to test you if you do not have symptoms,” Harris told the public.
Those with no symptoms who take tests are “using up valuable supplies,” he admonished.
As of 5:30 on Monday evening, Alabama has 196 cases of COVID-19; 44% of those are in Jefferson County.
There have still been no deaths from the virus in the Yellowhammer State.
The patients have ranged in age from two to 97.
According to Harrs, 6.5% of the individuals with a confirmed case are hospitalized.
The ADPH says that the biggest restriction in carrying out more tests is a lack of swabs that collect samples and tubes that preserve the swabs during transportation to the testing labs.
“We’re on our own in terms of finding this equipment,” said Harris before adding that every state was competing against each other to find supplies.
According to Harris, the ADPH will issue new guidance to physicians on Monday about who deserves a referral for testing.
The ADPH will continue to administer a test to anyone a physician deems deserving.
In response to a question about masks being sewn at home, Harris said those were only good for sick patients hoping not to infect others. He said they were not adequate for healthcare providers.
Harris said that “there is not a ventilator shortage at this time” before adding that “some hospitals are nearing capacity.”
Harris was asked about tweets from Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox that described a batch of over 500 samples from Alabamians that were ruined before the ADPH lab in Montgomery could test them.
Harris said that those samples were ruined due to insufficient refrigeration during their transport from Tuscaloosa to the ADPH lab.
In response to a question about the relative lack of confirmed cases in the heavily populated Mobile/Baldwin County area, Harris said that most likely the low number was due to a slow rollout of testing in that area.
When asked about whether the current State of Emergency would be extended past its current expiration date of April 6 Harris said that Alabamians “ought to be prepared” for that to happen, but declined to make a firm prediction.
Harris said that ADPH “spent a lot of time agonizing” over the economic consequences, but said they made the decisions they thought would save the most lives.
The 24-hour statewide hotline to handle questions about COVID-19 testing can be accessed by calling 1-888-264-2256.
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.