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BREAKING: Alabama's COVID-19 count rises to 51; first Calhoun County case reported today

The Alabama Department of Public Health today updated its list of COVID-19 cases in the state to show 51 cases of the new coronavirus, after reporting the first case in Calhoun County this morning. 

The new statewide number includes five more cases since the Public Health Department last updated its list this morning. Calhoun is the only new county to report a case today, with other counties reporting additional cases.

Among the cases reported on Tuesday was one in St. Clair County; the county board of education there said a student had tested positive for the virus.

The update comes as the state is ramping up testing, with drive-through testing sites around Alabama to serve patients who’ve had testing ordered by a doctor. One of those sites opened Tuesday at Anniston’s Regional Medical Center.

Louis Bass, CEO of RMC, said 23 people have been tested at that site so far. Testing at the site is open only to people who’ve been referred for testing by a doctor. 

None of those tested at the new RMC site have had a positive result for COVID-19; in fact, hospital officials say, results take about five days to come back.

Bass said RMC officials weren’t aware of anyone tested by the hospital — either at the new sampling site or earlier — who has had a positive result. He said RMC was checking with the state health department for more information.

“It could have been someone who drove to Birmingham for testing,” Bass said of the Calhoun County patient. 

Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency director Michael Barton said his agency didn’t have details on the COVID-19 patient. He said the state doesn’t release much information about those cases to avoid violating patient privacy laws. 

ADPH spokeswoman Arrol Sheehan, in a voicemail message, later confirmed the state health department isn’t allowed to release information other than a patient’s county of residence. 

Normal daily life has largely come to a halt in Alabama and much of the country, as public officials limit public gatherings, close schools and urge people to work from home if possible in an effort to slow the virus’ spread. Honda announced Wednesday it will shut its North American plants, including the one in Lincoln, for six days, beginning Monday.

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