A day after a child was revealed to be the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Mobile, health officials say he is recovering well at home and has not had a fever for two days.
Rendi Murphree, an epidemiologist with the Mobile County Health Department, said the Alabama Department of Public Health has finished conducting interviews with those who potentially came in contact with the child. They were asked to self-quarantine in their homes over the next 14 days.
Murphree said that there were fewer than 15 people interviewed, and she credited the “mitigation measures” that have already been implemented in Mobile County for that.
There are only two confirmed cases of COVID-19 affecting residents of Mobile County currently, though a third was diagnosed at a hospital locally. Officials later said the patient was from another county. As of Friday afternoon, there were 106 confirmed cases across Alabama, with most in Jefferson County.
Health officials have said they suspect there are other cases throughout the county. There are many anecdotal reports of residents claiming they exhibited possible symptoms of COVID-19 but weren’t able to be tested because of the lack of testing kits that has held up health officials here and across the country.
Local hospitals have been testing and plan to continue including those in the Infirmary Health System, which has confirmed three cases so far and plans to launch many more “appointment only” tests at the start of next week. A spokesperson for Springhill Medical Center also told Fox10 News the hospital had performed 36 tests so far with two of the results coming back negative and the others still pending.
Hospitals have been reserving tests for patients who are at the greatest risk of complications from COVID-19 and who are exhibiting symptoms like fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. Obtaining mass orders of testing kits and protective gear has been more difficult for MCHD and other public entities trying to implement the type of “drive-through” tests that have been seen in other areas of the country.
According to Murphree, despite putting in multiple orders for tests and protective gear, those orders have been canceled or redirected by the federal government on several occasions. She also noted that hospitals treating infected patients are typically a higher priority when distributing these limited resources.
“We really are trying to make sure our hospitals have all the proper equipment they need so they can protect those services and their staff,” Murphree said. “They need to stay open so the most critically ill can receive the care that they need.”
Murphree did say that MCHD had received the “medium,” which is specimens from tests collected when they are transported to a certified lab for testing. She is also anticipating an order of federally funded personal protective gear for local medical workers to be delivered over the weekend.
Previously, MCHD officials have said staff members are prepared to begin testing once they have access to tests and. They are also willing to help entities like the city of Mobile and Mobile County, which have been working to set up their own testing sites, but are also still awaiting tests themselves.
Mobile County Commission President Jerry Carl told Lagniappe that he’s worked with his colleagues to identify multiple locations where sites could be set up once tests are in hand. The locations and exact location of those sites have not been confirmed at this time.
Yesterday, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced two “drive-in” testing sites had been set up by city employees and were awaiting tests. On Friday, his office said it had reached an agreement with Synergy Laboratories in Mobile to develop tests specifically for those sites that could be available by April 1.
“Our health officers have reached out to the mayor to offer assistance and advice.” Murphree said. “If he is able to get the material for testing, taking specimens and sending them off for testing then we’re excited about that and we’ll provide as much assistance as we can.”
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