Task force provides updates on services

Published 8:02 pm Tuesday, March 24, 2020

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“I don’t have any doubt we’ll come through this stronger than we are now.”

That was Troy Mayor Jason Reeves’ message to city council members on Tuesday, as he updated them on efforts to cope with the COVID-19 coronavirus spread throughout the country.

“We have not had a confirmed case of the coronavirus in Pike County, and we’re blessed,” Reeves said. “And the think we’re trying to do right now is flatten that curve … our job is to have as little sickness and loss of human life as possible.”

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City officials have taken the precautionary measures of closing city buildings to the public, including the nutrition center; library; senior center; and city hall, although all city services are still be offered. “There’s nothing we can’t do to take care of our citizens,” Reeves said. “If they have to get a permit, pay a utility bill or get an inspection, they just have to call or come through the drive through. We will take care of it.”

As of 4:40 p.m. Tuesday, Alabama had 242 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with zero deaths and 2,321 tests conducted, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Reeves said while rumors often spread, trusting the ADPH and city officials is necessary to make sure information is accurate. “I tell everyone, if the Alabama Department of Health doesn’t report it or I don’t say it, then we don’t have a confirmed case,” Reeves said.

Reeves’ update with city council members came six hours after the county-wide coronavirus task force met to share updates, as well as address needs and concerns. Coordinated by Herb Reeves, Pike County EMA director, the task force includes representatives from all municipalities in the county; the Pike County commission; Troy Regional Medical Center; Troy Fire Department: Troy Police Department; Pike County Sheriff’s Department; Pike County Schools; and Troy City Schools, as well as Troy University.

“We’re meeting weekly moving forward to make sure we are keeping up to date on this, Reeves said.

Reeves said four sites in the city are collecting samples for testing, including  Troy Regional Medical Center, Ivy Creek, South Alabama Rural Health Associates and Charles Henderson Child Health Center.

“It appears the hospital and the testing sites have what they need to conduct the tests,” Reeves said. “Samples are being sent to state and private labs for testing,

Key updates shared at the task force include:

Troy Regional Medical Center

The hospital has established a coronavirus hotline for the public. Anyone with symptoms of the virus, especially high fever, cough and shortness of breath, is asked to call 334-670-5409. “That number is manned 24 hours a day, and we have staff who can ask questions and direct you to the proper care,” said Amy Minor, chief clinical officer. “If you do need to come to the hospital for us to collect a sample, we can meet you at your car. You don’t even have to come in the hospital.”

Minor confirmed that the hospital staff has ample personal protective equipment available and is prepared for any upcoming demand. “We’ve stopped all elective and non-emergency procedures, although we are still running diagnostics, and we’ve actually seen a decrease in our emergency department cases,” she said.

Minor said the hospital also hopes to have quick tests available by the end of the week. These tests, which produce results in about 45 minutes, are about 90 percent reliable for indicating presence of coronavirus. They would allow the hospital to help screen patients more effectively and more quickly before ordering the additional testing.

Troy Fire Department

Chief Buford Stephens said the department is making adjustments to medical calls where symptoms may indicate presence of coronavirus. “We’re following medical guidelines in these cases, and we’ll be sending in one man, gowned up with gloves and masks, to make an assessment and communicate with our medical professionals,” he said.

Pike County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff Russell Thomas said the jail remains closed to the public and deputies have ample protective equipment to be used in transporting prisoners.

Pike County Schools and Troy City Schools

Both districts continue to provide free lunches to students each day. “We want to make sure that everyone knows that any school age child, up to age 18, can get a lunch any day,” said Dr. Mark Bazzell, superindendent of Pike County Schools. “We’re serving at Troy Elementary, Goshen High School and Pike County Elementary. You can go to any school to pick up the lunch. You do not have to go the school you normally attend.”

Bazzell and Dr. Cynthia Thomas, TCS interim superintendent, both said they expect guidance from the state superintendent by Thursday regarding plans for remainder of the school year.