Testing still increasing

Published 8:28 pm Friday, May 15, 2020

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Pike County’s positive test results are likely to climb in the upcoming days.

“We’ve been doing more tests this week, but we haven’t had an influx of results,” said Amy Minor, chief clinical officer at Troy Regional Medical Center. “There’s a significant lag at the labs. I think we should definitely expect to see those numbers increase.”

As of Friday afternoon, the Alabama Department of Public Health reported 103 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pike County, with no deaths. Confirmed cases statewide totaled 11,216, with 476 deaths. The ADPH also reported that 2,767 of the cases had been confirmed in the past 14 days.

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How many of those confirmed cases remain active and how many have been resolved is unclear, officials said.

“I don’t know that the ADPH has a good way to tell us how many of those cases are active compared to resolved,” Minor said.

Once an individual tests positive for COVID-19, the labs notify the ADPH, which records the result. The collection sites – such as SARHA, TRMC, Ivy Creek, CHCHC, Southern Health Associates, Troy Family Medicine and Pike Internal Medicine – are notified by the ADPH and then provides follow-up care to the patients. Dr. Ben Smith of South Alabama Rural Health Associates said his clinic has confirmed more than 50 of the positive cases in the county.

“When we test someone, we tell them to remain at home and quarantined until the tests results come back,” he said. If an individual is asymptomatic and tests positive, “we advise them to remain isolated at home for 14 days, which is the CDC recommendation,” Smith said.

If individuals are symptomatic, the physicians will continue to treat and monitor the patient’s symptoms.

But there is no requirement for a follow-up test to clear the case. “Some employers do require their employees to have a negative test before returning to work, but not all employers do,” Smith said. “Our recommendation, based on CDC guidelines, is that you need to be afebrile (no fever) with no symptoms for three days before returning to work. For influenza, our guidelines are no fever for 24 hours.”

Some medical facilities have provided updates to the public on hospitalizations and active cases being treated by their facilities, but TRMC has not had significant hospitalizations.

Herb Reeves, Pike County EMA director, said the state EMA does not provide data on active vs. resolved cases, nor does it provide any sort of geographic breakdown below the county level,  such as how many cases are confirmed in specific cities. “The EMA folks do have addresses for first responders, so they can know what they’re going into if a situation arises, but I think providing results at that level also might run into privacy and HIPPA issues.”