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Calhoun County sees record day of new COVID-19 cases at 112

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The Calhoun County Health Department conducted free drive-thru COVID-19 testing at Alexandria Elementary School Thursday morning. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)

The number of Calhoun County residents infected with COVID-19 continued climbing Friday, with a record 112 new cases found since Thursday morning, according to local officials.

Regional Medical Center doctors said Friday the hospital still has open beds and an adequate number of nurses, but that could change if the number of local cases continues to rise.

“Obviously, it means that community transmission remains high in Calhoun County,” Emergency Management Agency director Michael Barton said.

As of Friday morning, the county had 1,409 confirmed cases and nine confirmed deaths, according to figures from the Alabama Department of Public Health. Barton said the numbers were going to level out across the state, but continued to increase in Calhoun County.

He said he didn’t know what was behind the spike in Calhoun County, but officials planned to work Friday and Saturday to investigate the cause.

Barton noted the spike comes nearly two weeks after Gov. Kay Ivey mandated that masks be worn in public

Dr. Raul Magadia, RMC’s infectious disease specialist, said Friday there were four open beds in the hospital’s three COVID-19 units. He said 15 patients were on ventilators and there were no remaining beds in the first unit, which houses the sickest patients.

“For lack of a better word, it’s bad,” Magadia said.

If cases increase over the weekend, Magadia said, RMC will have to pull nurses from other floors or from Stringfellow Memorial Hospital, leaving less care for patients with issues other than the virus.

“We still have those bronchitis and stroke patients rolling in,” Magadia said.

Despite Friday’s circumstances, Magadia said, he remained hopeful things would improve soon. He said he saw a marked improvement in the weeks after Ivey ordered shutdowns on businesses, schools and public gatherings in March. Hopefully, he said, Ivey’s mask mandate and RMC’s no-visitors policy may start a decline in cases and hospitalizations during the weekend or beginning of next week.

Barton said the best way to combat the spread of COVID-19 is to wear a mask in public, practice social distancing and practice basic hygiene.

“We can definitely help lessen the impact,” Barton said.

Contact Staff Writer Mia Kortright at 256-235-3563.

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