Hospital CEO urges continued distancing

Published 8:02 pm Wednesday, April 22, 2020

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As the final week of April 2020 looms ever closer, the number of Pike County residents testing positive for COVID-19 continues to rise.

On Wednesday evening, the number of those in Pike County testing positive for coronavirus reached 53, as statewide cases of the virus increased to more than 5,589

That is reason for Pike Countians to remain vigilant, said Rick Smith,  CEO of Troy Regional Medical Center.

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Now is not the time for Pike Countains to let their guards down, Smith said.

“After eight weeks, people are getting tired of staying home and too many people are not heeding the warnings,” Smith said. “Parking lots are full of people out shopping. I was in the grocery store and I was wearing a mask,  but I was in the minority.

“The numbers of those testing positive for COVID-19 continues to rise and, it’s obvious that too many are not taking that seriously.”

Smith said TRMC is a test collection site for those with symptoms of the coronavirus. TRMC has collected 25 or 26 of the 48 positive cases of the coronavirus.

Of those who tested positive for COVID-19 only four have been hospitalized at TRMC, with three of those staying for overnight observation and one spending a weekend at the hospital. Smith said that none he recalls have been placed on a ventilator.

Even though Gov. Kay Ivey  is hesitant to give the go-ahead for the economy to re-open, other state officials are pushing to re-open  selected non-essential businesses. The state at home order expires April 30, and officials expect to see some easing on business restrictions when that happens. Locally, there are those who agree that it’s time to get the economy open and moving again.

But Smith has concerns.

“Nobody wants to see businesses open back up and our economy moving forward more than I do, but we have to do it the right way, in bits and pieces,” he said.

Smith said a real concern in re-opening businesses is the inability to maintain social distancing.

“I have doubts that someone cutting my hair could do so from six to eight feet away,” he said, citing hair salons and waiting areas among places that could be a “hot mess” if the number of those who test positive for COVID-19 continues to rise.

As Alabama and Pike County move forward, Smith said he is and has been confident that TRMC is continually in a state of readiness for any situations related to COVID-19.

“As far as strategy, logistics and supply readiness, I could not be prouder of the efforts for our team effort,” Smith said. “Our community can be assured that we are prepared and ready for any situations that arise from COVID-19.

Smith said no one should take COVID-19 lightly — the number of cases in point. The older population, those 60 and over, are more vulnerable to the virus but young people are also are risk