East Alabama Medical Center is expecting a slight increase in the number of Covid-19 cases over the coming weeks as the state takes steps to ease off Stay at Home restrictions enacted earlier this month. 

The Stay at Home order issued in early April expires today and will be replaced by a Safer at Home order, which eases off some of the restrictions, including allowing retail stores to open with 50 percent occupancy, opening beaches and allowing the resumption of elective medical procedures. 

EAMC called Ivey's gradual approach to reopening Alabama's economy "wise."

"While we all want to return to life as we knew it three months ago, doing so in phases is a more measured approach that will allow for adjustments, if needed," said a release from EAMC. "With the changes announced today, we do expect to see slight increases in our statistics, but not back to where we were. However, we all more fully understand COVID-19 now and how to help protect ourselves. Just like every community in America and the world, we have to adapt to the new normal.  With the tremendous support we have received over the past two months, we know our community stands ready to adjust and move forward cautiously."

As of Wednesday morning, Lee County has had 377 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 25 deaths. EAMC has 38 patients hospitalized with confirmed Covid-19 and another 22 patients whose testing results are pending. Seven patients are on ventilators, the same number as last week. 

Due to a reduction in calls, EAMC has adjusted its hours for its Covid-19 hotline, 334-528-SICK. The new hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. 

"The number of Covid-19 patients at EAMC is expected to ebb and flow over the next few months," said EAMC hospitalist Dr. Michael Roberts last week. "Temporary increases in patients may follow events like Easter, when people gather in larger numbers. We expect to have Covid-19 cases at EAMC for some time, and though we hope to see those numbers gradually decline, it will not be as fast as any of us wish. Social distancing has been effective in “flattening the curve” in east Alabama. It remains an important strategy in managing Covid-19 in our region."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded its range of Covid-19 symptoms. A persistent cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing are still listed as the main symptoms. If someone has at least two of the following symptoms, they might also have Covid-19: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell. 

Symptoms of Covid-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the coronavirus. 

For more information, visit the CDC's dedicated coronavirus page

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