The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, continue to rise in Lee County as EAMC seeks more personal protective equipment for health care workers bracing for a continued surge of the pandemic in the Auburn area. 

Lee County has seen its number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 rise to 44 from only three last week, as of Thursday morning. Alabama has 449 confirmed cases and one reported death.

Nine patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 are being treated by EAMC, as of Wednesday night. Another 25 patients with suspected Covid-19 are also hospitalized at EAMC. Only one patient who tested positive and was hospitalized at EAMC has been discharged. 

Testing has also surged over the last week. EAMC has submitted over 800 collection kits. The age range of those who have tested positive is 20 to 82, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. 

"At this time, Lee County has the third highest number of confirmed cases in the state," said Laura Grill, EAMC president and CEO, in a release. "That makes us somewhat of a ‘hot spot’ for Alabama and so we are working very closely with the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Hospital Association to monitor our situation."

EAMC has also sent out a plea for more health supplies. It's asking businesses to donate isolation gowns, masks, latex gloves and hand sanitizer. Some businesses have already responded, like Auburn Pharmacy, which donated its supply of gloves. 

EAMC is suggesting that Auburn residents adhere to its "shelter-in-place"  guideline and practice good hygiene, washing hands for 20 seconds often, avoiding touching your eyes and face, and maintaining good social distancing practices, like staying six feet away from another person. 

"We have to change the way we live our lives. We have to reset and learn the new way," said Dr. Ricardo Maldonado, infectious disease specialist at EAMC, who emphasized that Covid-19 is transmitted through droplets passed by sneezing, coughing or even breathing in droplets if you are too close to an infected person. "These droplets can also land and survive on certain surfaces for some time. If you touch anything with droplets and then you touch your eye or face, you could become infected."

About 80 percent of patients with Covid-19 will only experience mild symptoms, while 20 percent will be more severe and could require hospitalization. If you are feeling Covid-19 symptoms — fever, shortness of breath, a persistent cough — health experts want you to shelter in place, separate yourself from others, and if you think you need medical attention either call your primary care physician for a screening over the phone or call EAMC's hotline at 334-528-SICK, which is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

If you only have mild symptoms, you should shelter at home and treat the symptoms as you would seasonal flu, with over-the-counter medications except ibuprofen. You should not drive directly to the hospital or your doctor.

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. 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, said an EAMC release.

"An unprecedented crisis made landfall last week in our community. The situation will likely worsen over the next few days. We must know and understand our enemy to defeat it. If we don't, we will not win. If we ignore the enemy we become the enemy. We have no time," said Maldonado. "Covid-19 is already here in our community, and we have to assume that if we have new symptoms of a respiratory infection, it could be Covid-19."

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