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ADPH graphs share info about spread

As local and state confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to increase, residents want to know more about the numbers being reported by officials, but much of that information is protected by federal privacy laws.

“A lot of people want to know: ‘where do they live, in the city or the county? Where do they work?’ … and they’re not going to give that information out,” said Herbert Reeves, Pike County EMA director.

In an effort to provide more context to the COVID-19 numbers, the Alabama Department of Public Health on Tuesday released new graphics providing demographic details about the state’s confirmed cases.

“We have received several requests for information about the many Alabamians affected by this highly infections and deadly virus,” said Dr. Scott Harris, state health officer.

The demographic information, which can be viewed under the “Current Situation in Alabama” header on the state department’s website includes demographic information about the number of laboratory-confirmed cases; total number of patients hospitalized; reported deaths; verified deaths; age; sex; race; and ethnicity.

It includes clinical and epidemiologic characteristics of patients including whether or not they are in an intensive care and on a ventilator; whether or not they are healthcare workers and whether they are employees or residents of long-term care facilities.

The new graphics also provide demographics on the 39 deaths confirmed to be caused by COVID-19. The state has reported 62 deaths total in which COVID-19 was present.

Among those deaths:

• 16 individuals were aged 19-64; 23 were 65 or older.

• 17 were black, 17 were white; 3 were Asian; and 2 were other nationalities.

• 26 were male; 13 were female.

• 22 had cardiovascular  isease; 17 had diabetes; and nine had chronic lung disease.

One important fact to note: the statistics used for the context graphics are from the prior day’s reporting, and while the ADPH online site provides more current numbers, those still can lag behind actual results.

“There is a lag in the process,” Reeves said.

When labs obtain a positive result for COVID-19, they notify the test collection site or health care provider and the ADPH state lab, which confirms the results. The ADPH in turn is responsible for notifying the employer and conducting any trace investigations for possible exposure to other individuals, Reeves said.

“They do not have to notify the EMA or any of the local officials,” Reeves said.

As of Tuesday at 5 p.m., the ADPH site reported 14 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pike County, with zero hospitalizations and zero deaths. On Monday, Troy Health and Rehab reported a confirmed case among its residents, although it is unclear of the ADPH totals include that case.

Statewide, the ADPH reported 2,168 confirmed cases, 62 reported deaths related to COVID-19 and 271 hospitalizations.

As Pike County and Alabama enter the fourth day of a statewide stay-at-home order, Reeves said he is seeing encouraging signs of response locally.

“I think it’s going pretty decently, although I was out on U.S. 231 and there is still a lot of traffic,” Reeves said. “I think maybe a lot of people are beginning to take the situation more seriously than they were.”

Gov. Kay Ivey’s order requires Alabama residents to remain at home unless they work in an essential business or travelling to or from an essential business, such as the grocery store or pharmacy. Officials have repeated warned that the next two to three weeks are critical for trying to mitigate the spread of the virus in Alabama.

“I think if our numbers can hold for the next week or so, and we don’t see a spike in the numbers, it will be worth it,” Reeves said.

The ADPH coronavirus page can be accessed at https://alabamapublichealth.gov/infectiousdiseases/2019-coronavirus.html

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