3 weeks ago

I’m a mom and a daughter and a doctor — Here is how my family is preparing for the days ahead

As a family medicine physician, I can tell you that we are in a uniquely uncertain time. The coronavirus, known as novel COVID-19, is a new virus that we have never seen before. This means that our bodies do not have immune systems used to fighting off this particular virus. We do not yet know exactly how the virus behaves. We also do not have a vaccine, and it may take more than a year to develop one.

What we know

We are learning that many patients experience mild flu-like symptoms. That is reassuring for the vast majority of us. But we also know that people over 60 and patients with other health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or pregnancy, may have a harder time fighting off this virus. They often need extended stays in intensive care, requiring ventilators to help them breathe, and there are only so many beds and ventilators available.

This is the reason officials are urging everyone — not just the elderly or immunosuppressed — to take this situation very seriously.

Do this!

As you have surely heard by now, good tips to fend off the virus include:

  • Wash your hands — often and for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use hand sanitizer when you cannot access soap and water.
  • Clean frequently used surfaces with disinfecting wipes.
  • Cough into a tissue (then throw it away) or your elbow.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Stay away from others; practice social distancing.
  • Isolate yourself if you are sick.

Parenting

Our situation is changing rapidly, and as I write this, I am planning for schools to be closed for several weeks. As a working mom, I can tell you I have a lot of logistical questions about what is ahead for my daughters. How will they fill their days? My husband and I are planning to establish as much of a routine as possible — one that involves our girls’ getting up, getting dressed, and performing regular school-like activities such as reading and math, as well as setting aside time each day for exercise and fun to keep them from going stir-crazy. Will they get more time on digital devices? Most likely, yes. Will they watch movies, play board games and generally lounge around? Yes. Chores? Definitely yes. Backyard scavenger hunts? Sure — fresh air and sunshine are great. Healthy meals and quality sleep? I sure hope so. Play dates with other friends and neighbors? Absolutely NOT!

Parenting your parents

As a daughter, I can tell you that I have already let my parents and in-laws know that they are among the ones we are most concerned about. Anyone over 60 should be extremely cautious. I have told them to stay at home. They will be limiting their visits to the grocery store or having extended family grocery shop for them, and they will be attending worship services via the television, computer or another device. Speaking of devices, we will be calling and texting often to make sure that, though they may be alone, they are not lonely. I am encouraging everyone to also check in with other elderly family and friends, especially those who do not have a close-knit family network nearby.

Got symptoms? Don’t panic

And what if someone gets sick? More than likely, it will not be the coronavirus. We are still in flu season, and with the arrival of spring, allergies are also around the corner, if not already here. But if you or a family member develops a persistent cough, spikes a fever, or has shortness of breath or other respiratory issues, it is definitely worth a call to the doctor. Please do not panic, and do not rush to the clinic or the emergency room, where the sickest and most vulnerable patients require attention and protection. When my clinic fields these phone calls, we will ask about your history and whether you have come in contact with someone known to have the virus. If we suspect that you have been exposed, we will advise you to either wait out the illness at home if your symptoms are mild, or be admitted to a hospital if your symptoms are more severe.

There is no medicine to treat COVID-19. Treatment involves supportive care, managing the patients’ symptoms. If you want to get tested for peace of mind, there are now drive-through testing sites where you will not even need to leave your car — a professional will swab for a sample right through the window. Results will be available within 72 hours. A private company is administering these tests at Church of the Highlands on Grandview Parkway; there may be more to come. Visit assurancescientificlabs.com/coronavirus for operating hours.

Preparing

At UAB, our clinics and hospitals have been preparing for a crisis such as this for years. We have anticipated the threat of an emerging virus, and have planned and practiced how to manage it. We have protocols in place to help keep our patients and health care workers safe. But we must ask for everyone’s help. Please do everything you can to minimize your risk, as well as the risks of others. Yes, we have difficult and challenging times ahead. But with your help, we will better be able to care for your family, as well as the families of everyone else.

If you are experiencing symptoms, call your primary care physician or urgent care facility before coming into a clinic or office. If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.

For the latest COVID-19 information from the Alabama Department of Public Health, call 1-800-338-8374.

For frequently asked questions and to learn more about how UAB is addressing the situation, visit www.uab.edu/coronavirus.

Erin DeLaney, M.D., is a board-certified family medicine physician in the UAB Department of Family and Community Medicine. She received her medical degree from the University of South Alabama and completed her family medicine residency in Portland, Maine. In her time off, she enjoys traveling, reading, running, and spending time outside with her husband and two young daughters.

(Courtesy of UAB)

6 mins ago

House Majority Ldr Ledbetter: ‘The people in our state are strong — They’re going to come back better than ever’

In recent days, some of the doom and gloom resulting from the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on Alabama has given way to optimism.

Among those with an optimistic disposition regarding the state’s handling of COVID-19 and the state’s economy is Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville).

During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, Ledbetter laid out why he sees the state turning a corner in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

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“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Ledbetter said of a perceived change in trends for the better. “The models indicate that. When you put everything in that they ask for — once you do that, it shows up dropping in numbers. At one time, some of the models were showing us at 5,000 deaths. I think now it has decreased down into the hundreds, and maybe even lower than that. That’s certainly been important for the people in our state. The things we look for — you know the question today was what will see when we start going back to normal?”

“That was one of the things — fewer cases and deaths, and more tests we’ll get out, the better off we’ll be,” he continued. “The curve that everybody’s talked about — hospital capacity, we’re actually in pretty good shape right now, the state of Alabama. We’ve got about 50% of our beds available. Somewhere around 36% of our ICU beds are available. We’ve got about 800 ventilators, which has increased pretty significantly. When we started out, we had 1,333 ventilators in this state, and I think we’re up to some 1,800 ventilators.”

Ledbetter credited many institutions around Alabama for getting the ventilator count up, from nursing school to the veterinarian school at Auburn University, and pointed to an effort to refurbish some ventilators that were in disrepair.

He also credited State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

“I’ve got to give credit to Dr. Harris,” he said. “I think he has done a tremendous job — him and Dr. [Don] Williamson, in my opinion very fortunate to have those two. Dr. Williamson over the hospital association, and of course, Dr. Scott Harris is over [the Alabama Department of Public Health]. Those two have worked in tandem, and I really truly believe they’re one of the main reasons we’re where we are at today and have been hit no harder than what we have been hit.”

The Dekalb County Republican lawmaker insisted the state would rally back to an even better position economically.

“If we can get this behind us, and get our economy growing — you know, our Alabama economy as growing better than it ever has in my lifetime,” he explained. “Unemployment was 2.7%. We had added some 24,000 jobs and $14 billion into the economy. You know, it almost hit a brick wall. We’ll see how it comes out, and listen — the people in our state are strong. They’re going to come back better than ever. I really believe that.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

39 mins ago

By the numbers – Cases, life and looking forward in Alabama

It has now been 28 days since Gov. Kay Ivey issued an order declaring a state of emergency in Alabama due to the coronavirus outbreak.

For most, it feels much longer ago.

Here is the latest info, by the numbers.

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2,499. That’s the confirmed number of coronavirus cases as of 6:00 a.m. on Thursday. This is a 302 case increase in the last 24 hours but still far below previous projections. Alabama’s numbers remain manageable.

67 reported deaths in the same time period.

314. Those are the total hospitalizations in the state since March 13. Should Alabama’s current trajectory hold, bed space in the state will be a non-issue.

60,000. The total estimated deaths in the United States has been reduced to this number after having been previously projected to be between 100,000 and 250,000.

1,200. That’s the number of masks donated to hospitals and nursing homes by Masks for Marshall County. Volunteer efforts like this are popping up across Alabama as members of the community seek to help those most vulnerable.

Mobile County now has 249 reported cases.

15. That’s the number of employees at Grayson Air Conditioning in Mobile who received  lunch vouchers from company owner Richard Ridge so they could eat out and support local restaurants struggling to do business. Ridge challenged those deemed essential to support other businesses as best as they can.

363 healthcare workers have now developed confirmed cases which is why there have been efforts in communities across the state to offer support and gratitude.

3. The number of hours coronavirus can remain viable in the air.

24. The number of hours coronavirus can remain viable on cardboard such as packages delivered by Amazon.

72. The number of hours coronavirus can remain viable on a plastic surface similar to a bottle of water.

100. That’s the number of birthdays World War II veteran and Mobile resident Henry Waltman was supposed to celebrate at Battleship Park this week. Unfortunately, due to the outbreak, his birthday party had to be canceled. Instead, friends drove by his home and honked their horns.

56.54. This is the percentage of women among the confirmed cases in the Yellowhammer State.

1,000,000 is the amount of dollars the Poarch Band of Creek Indians donated to Atmore Community Hospital. Tribal chair and CEO Stephanie Bryan said, “We are committed to doing everything we can to make sure this great hospital that serves our community has what it needs.”

7. The number of days coronavirus can live on the outside of a surgical mask. A reminder for everyone of the care required even when using extra precautions.

40. That’s the number of years of experience Dr. Richard Myers has working in genetics. Myers is leading the effort at Huntsville’s HudsonAlpha Institute to develop a treatment and a vaccine for coronavirus.

180. For some, this may be the most important number on the list. It’s the number of days until the college football season kicks off on September 5. It’s good to have something to look forward to.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

15 hours ago

OK, it’s time to start talking about opening up Alabama’s economy

The irresponsibility of the media, national public health officials and China has effectively destroyed our economy, individual businesses and American lives.

It is time to look for the exit ramp.

On March 14, Ramsey Archibald, son of John Archibald, was responsible for a completely ridiculous piece of video that rightly scared the heck out of many Alabamians.

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Archibald helped push the message that 2.5 million Alabamians would get the coronavirus, adding, “Let’s be conservative and say 50% get COVID-19.”

But wait, there’s more.

The video also makes the following claims:

  • 500,000 will need to be treated at a hospital.
  • 125,000 will need treatment at an intensive care unit.
  • 25,000 people could die

The Alabama Media Group “data reporter” painted this projection of millions getting sick and 25,000 dead as the best-case scenario.

He — and his publication — got it wrong. Big time.

But it worked. In concert with other lunatics, they declared that Alabama Governor Kay Ivey wanted people to die, or was at least cool with it, if she didn’t declare Alabama to be a “shelter-in-place” state.

After all, they just heard of such a thing and the smart states were doing it, so the dummies in Alabama should do it as well.

I, for my part, saw this for what it was and pointed out that at some point the governor’s office would cave and make the order, so she should just do it.

That’s exactly what happened.

The numbers began to change.

March 14 — 25,000
March 31 — 1,700
April 1 — 7,300+
April 2 — 5,500+
April 5 — 923
April 8 — 634

Now, this other info came from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projections.

Archibald’s info? A CBS News piece and a calculator. The projection went from 25,000 to 634 in less than a month.

The national line moved from 2.2 million to 60,000+ in that same time frame.

But the storyline didn’t reflect that change.

“People will die!” after all.

It won’t change now either.

It’s time to acknowledge that Alabama should be figuring out how to get back open for business.

Here is my suggestion how:

  1. Social distancing continues until August 1
  2. All businesses, outside of bars, restaurants and sporting events, can open on May 1
  3. Bars, restaurants and sporting events can open on May 15 with half occupancy
  4. Everything can fully open up on June 1
  5. Dates can change based on data

Why these dates?

Why not? Archibald based his on less.

The other steps we took were based on incorrect information and a guess.

Nations in Europe are doing similar things, and I thought people wanted us to be like Europe.

Give Alabamians some hope. Let them know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Be optimistic, but safe. Be smart, but understand that people are suffering here.

Jobs and businesses are already lost, unemployment is through the roof. It’s time to show the people of Alabama that there was a reason for that.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

15 hours ago

Yellowhammer connects your business to Alabama consumers

After nine years, our mission remains the same: reflect our state, its people and their values. As the state’s second-largest media outlet, Yellowhammer connects your business to the people of Alabama.

Online, on the radio, podcasts, events and more. What can Yellowhammer do for you?

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15 hours ago

Ainsworth encourages Alabamians to ‘Ring for the Resurrection’ on Easter

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth is asking all Alabamians to join him in a “Ring for the Resurrection” campaign on Easter Sunday. The effort is intended to promote unity at this COVID-19 time of prolonged separation and to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his crucifixion.

Ring for the Resurrection, which was created by Ainsworth, calls for all churches and individuals across the Yellowhammer State to ring a bell at noon on Sunday, April 12, in joint celebration of the holiday.

“Social distancing guidelines require us to remain apart from our extended families, church members, and other individuals on a sacred religious holiday that normally encourages us to gather together,” Ainsworth said in a statement on Wednesday. “But I realized that the simple act of ringing a bell can allow us to remain physically distant while being united in spirit.”

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“My wife, Kendall, our twin boys, Hunter and Hays, and our daughter, Addie, will be among those ringing a bell at noon on Sunday to celebrate the miracle of Easter,” he concluded. “While Gov. Ivey’s stay-at-home order, the public’s health and safety, and simple common sense prevent Christians from gathering in large groups even on the holiest of days, all of us can join together in spirit as we ring a bell to recognize that Christ has risen.”

This comes after Ainsworth earlier this week unveiled a new website designed to provide small business owners with a one-stop online information hub related to the ongoing pandemic.

RELATED: Ivey announces campaign encouraging Alabamians to pray for medical personnel, first responders

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn