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Three in Chambers die COVID-19-related deaths

Three Chambers County residents have died of complications from COVID-19, according to a news release from Lee County Coroner Bill Harris.

Harris said five people have died at East Alabama Medical Center since Friday morning, with three of those deaths being Chambers County residents. Two others were from Lee County.

No additional information is currently known about the five deaths.

A news release from EAMC Saturday afternoon said as of 5 p.m., the total number of deaths are not reflected on the Alabama Department of Public Health website because hospital officials and ADPH are working through the process for official state determination before adding them to the COVID-19 death total. 

“However, EAMC felt it was important to share at this time so that citizens in this area understand the gravity of this virus,” the news release said. 

Laura Grill, EAMC President and CEO, said the hospital expresses its collective condolences to the families of the five patients.

“As everyone knows, this virus has taken a toll on our nation and world, and our community is not exempt from that,” she said in a news release. “Our hearts and prayers are with these families at this very difficult time. The ICU staff, respiratory therapists and physicians who worked most closely with these patients, are especially struggling and we ask that the community lift them up today just as they have been lifting up our whole organization the past two weeks.”

EAMC reports there are 19 patients hospitalized with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, and there have been five patients who were previously hospitalized with COVID-19 who have been discharged.

Currently, there are 22 patients hospitalized with suspected COVID-19. 

There are 14 hospitalized patients who were previously suspected of COVID-19 who have been ruled negative for the virus. 

Confirmed COVID-19 cases by county in the EAMC immediate service area include: 

  • Lee County – 56
  • Chambers County – 17
  • Tallapoosa County – 5
  • Bullock County – 3
  • Randolph County – 2
  • Russell County – 1
  • Clay County – 2

EAMC also put a plea to church members to not gather until the region has been safe for group activities.

“Please find alternate ways to worship and stay together as a ‘church’ without congregating,” the news release said. “While there are no absolute patterns among the 47 confirmed cases in Lee County, one nugget of information does stand out a little—the last public setting for a sizable number of them was at church. Not at one church, or churches in one town, but at church in general.”

The hospital did state it realized many churches have moved to online services or canceled church completely during the healthcare crisis, but some were still reported to have met as recently this past Sunday. 

“We know that being at church is very sacred to many people, but it’s also a place where people are in very close contact and often greet each other with hugs and handshakes as a ritual,” the news release said. 

The hospital has also created a screening hotline from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and specimen collection will continue daily, according to the news release at HealthPlus and EAMC-Lanier. 

The hotline phone number is (334)-528-SICK. 

The hospital is also asking businesses with access to the following items to consider donating them: 

  • Isolation gowns: non-sterile, impervious
  • Masks: surgical, procedure, earloop, earloop with face shield, or fog-free procedure mask
  • Latex gloves: exam, nitrile or chemo
  • Hand sanitizer: 70% ethyl alcohol. 

The hospital said businesses may bring those items to the collection site outside of EAMC’s main lobby in Opelika between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. each weekday. 

EAMC is also asking residents in the immediate area to shelter in place. 

“Sheltering in place means you stay at home with immediate family members only and should not leave your home except for essential activities such as food, medical care, or work,” the news release said. “You should not host gatherings of people outside of your immediate family. You should also maintain a 6-foot distance from other people as much as possible, wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each time, and frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces.”