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EAMC-Lanier to change visitation level to red

On Monday, East Alabama Medical Center changed its visitation level from orange to red. Since restoring patient visitation in October, EAMC has been in the orange visitation level which allows one visitor in most areas between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. With COVID-19 hospitalizations now firmly at 40 or higher — and even higher numbers expected — EAMC is moving the visitation level to red effective on Monday, Dec. 7.

According to EAMC Public Relations & Marketing Director, John Atkinson, EAMC-Lanier will move to red level visitation Tuesday.

When the original levels were announced, red meant no visitors in most areas. Since then, EAMC officials have altered those restrictions to still allow some amount of visitation in most areas. One of the key differences is that the time of visitation for inpatients will be from 10 a.m. until noon and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., as opposed to 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. under the orange level.

Since Aug. 2, EAMC had 50 or more patients hospitalized with COVD-19, but according to a press release from EAMC, the hospital was at 49 patients as of Friday morning. The press release also states that the hospital is bracing for even higher numbers following Thanksgiving gatherings.

“Other parts of the state have been seeing increased numbers for a while, but ours were fairly stable until the past week or so,” says John Atkinson, EAMC spokesman. “As a community, state and country, we cannot just throw in the towel and wait for the vaccines to be distributed over the first six months of 2021. That will be detrimental to hospitals, schools, the economy, and human lives. We have to take personal responsibility immediately to do our best to limit the spread. As Dr. Maldonado said last month, ‘we are at the mercy of our own behavior.”

As of Thursday, there had been no hospitalizations at EAMC related to influenza. However, flu season is just starting for this region. “Last year, we peaked during the week of Christmas, but it is typically anywhere from December through February when we see the bulk of patients suffering from the flu,” Atkinson stated.

“A couple of things come to mind for why we could fewer flu cases and hospitalizations this year,” he said. “People may have been more inclined to get a flu vaccine this year is one reason. The other reason is that the precautions we are taking to protect others and ourselves from COVID-19 are likely helping contain the flu virus, which is not as contagious as COVID-19.”

Nine of Alabama’s 67 counties have a 7-day positivity rate average of 50 percent or higher.

In the first six days of December, Chambers County has seen 98 positive cases.