Medical Association of Alabama Op-Ed
By John S. Meigs, Jr., MD, Presiden
April 7, 4:00 - We are in the midst of a historic and unprecedented event. The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 will be one for the history books. How will history judge our response to this crisis? Certainly we as a nation and as a health system were unprepared for a pandemic of this magnitude. It has exposed the flaws and weaknesses in our health system and pointed out the real need for expanded primary care in our country.
It has also been a stark reminder of the importance the social determinants of health play in an individual's and communities' overall health. African Americans have been disproportionately at higher risk of contracting and even dying from COVID-19.
As I write this, Alabama now has over 2,000 cases of COVID-19, a doubling of cases in less than one week, with approximately 50 deaths in our state. We now have cases in 66 of Alabama's 67 counties, and the limited testing in Geneva County may well be the reason they have yet to confirm a case of COVID-19.
Our State Health Officer, Dr. Scott Harris, has been recommending self-isolation and social distancing for several weeks now. Governor Kay Ivey issued the statewide Shelter in Place order last Friday effective at
5 pm Saturday, April 4. For a contagious respiratory infection for which we have no treatment, isolation, social distancing and public avoidance are our only effective means to slow down the spread of his disease and save lives. Dr. Harris and Governor Ivey are to be commended for having the courage to make this difficult decision and to do what is right, what was needed, in the face of the political pressure against these measures.
The closing of schools and daycares, the shuttering of non-essential businesses, the avoidance of large group meetings, the delaying of elective medical procedures are all disruptive and will cause economic hardships. But it will save lives. That has to take precedence. Models predict between 500 and 1000
Alabamians could die from COVID-19 in the next 6 months. Between 100,000 and 2 million Americans could die from COVID-19 in the next 6 months. Even those lower end numbers are frightening but the only way to keep the numbers on the low end instead of the upper end of that range is to strictly apply our only weapons against this disease: self isolation, social distancing and public avoidance.
Stay at home, folks. The life you save may be your own, or mine, or someone you love.
State Health Officer issues stay at home order and strict quarantine requirements
April 3, 5:17 - State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris has issued a health order effective until April 30 which requires every person in Alabama to stay at his or her place of residence except as necessary to perform essential activities. Anyone leaving home must maintain six feet of separation from other people.
Essential activities are defined in the health order and are as follows:
- To obtain necessary supplies
- To obtain or provide necessary services
- To attend religious services
- To take care of others
- To work at essential businesses and operations
- To engage in outdoor activity
- To seek shelter
- To travel as required by law
- To see family members
Essential businesses and operations, listed below, must take all reasonable steps to avoid gatherings of 10 persons or more and maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons.:
- Essential government functions
- Health-care providers and caregivers
- Essential infrastructure
- Manufacturing facilities
- Agricultural operations and farms,
- Essential retailers
- Essential services
- Media operations
- Education operations
- Financial services
- Professional services
- Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantages populations
- Construction and construction-related services
- Essential public services
- Military or defense operations
- Essential services or product providers
- Religious entities
- Federally designated critical infrastructure
- Other state-designated essential businesses and operations
Effective immediately, any person who has tested positive for COVID-19 shall be quarantined to their place of residence for a period of 14 days after receiving positive test results. Quarantined persons may not leave their place of residence for any reason other than to seek necessary medical treatment.
The statewide order also requires quarantined persons to take precautions as directed by their health care provider or the Alabama Department of Public Health to prevent the spread of the disease to others. Persons needing assistance with their needs while under quarantine may contact Alabama Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
Requests for exemptions will no longer be accepted. One of the items addresses attendance at religious services and reads as follows:
"A person may leave his or her place of residence to attend an event that is a religious worship service, wedding, or funeral in either of the following circumstances:
(i) The event involves fewer than 10 people and the people maintain a consistent six-foot distance from one another; or
(ii) The event is a "drive-in" worship service that adheres to the following rules:
- All participants shall remain in their vehicles for the entirety of the service;
- The participants in each vehicle all share the same place of residence; and
- Participants do not interact with participants in another vehicle."
Regarding grocery stores, pharmacies and other stores, the following rules apply:
Emergency maximum occupancy rate. A retail store shall allow no more than 50 percent of its normal occupancy load inside the store at any one time. The store must station enough staff at the store entrances and exits to enforce this requirement.
Social distancing. An employee of a retail store may not knowingly allow customers or patrons to congregate within six feet of one another.
Sanitation. A retail store shall take reasonable steps to comply with guidelines on sanitation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and ADPH.
Permissible reasons for people to leave their residences and places where they may go are described in more detail in the health order which may be viewed at alabamapublichealth.gov.
The April 3 order supersedes and preempts all orders previously issued by the State Health Officer and Jefferson and Mobile County Health Officers concerning COVID-19 mitigation measures. Jefferson and Mobile County Health Officers are authorized, after approval by the State Health Officer, to implement more stringent measures as local circumstances
UAB Hospital Inpatient COVID-19 cases
As of 9:00 a.m. Friday, UAB Hospital is caring for 62 inpatients who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Cullman Regional COVID-19 Preparations
April 3, 1:42 - Cullman Regional's team has been preparing for the COVID-19 pandemic for over a month, and the hospital is ready if a surge of patients needs care.
First, Cullman Regional is ensuring the safety of the staff. The hospital currently has an adequate supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies and is doing everything possible to ensure there is enough to protect our patient care team members. Some of the ways this is being done includes:
- Following all CDC and manufacturer guidelines for use of N95 masks including a mask sterilization program in through the hospital's Surgical Central Sterilizing department. These practices have been put into place to make the best use of the supplies we have and conserve for a possible surge.
- Soliciting donations of hard-to-find items from the community including hand sanitizer, Clorox cleaning products, surgical/procedural masks, eye shields and safety goggles.
- Working with local business to acquire industrial safety gowns for approved PPE use.
- We have the hospital 5th floor which works on a separate air-handler so we can house all COVID-19 patients in one area of the hospital, if the need arises.
- We have an ongoing disaster plan that includes additional off-site care locations if the need arises.
- We typically have 8 ventilators available in the hospital, but can accommodate up to 30 patients on ventilators, if the need arises.
April 3, 12:35 - UAB has created a tracker to keep up with virus hotspots. This could be a big help. Follow and report if you have symptoms here:
Effective today, the Downtown COVID-19 Testing Site hours will change. The new hours are as follows:
- Call Center: 7 a.m. - 7 p.m., seven days a week
- Testing site: 9 a.m. - 11:15 a.m., seven days a week
Patients must call 205-975-1881 first and be screened by a provider who will then schedule an appointment time for testing -- if the caller has a positive screen for COVID-19 symptoms. Symptoms include cough, fever and shortness of breath.
High call volumes may result in long hold times and or busy signals. If you get a busy signal when calling, please hang up and wait 10 minutes before attempting to call again.
The following is a snapshot of statistics gathered since the call site went live on Sunday, March 22. All numbers are through March 31:
- 6,419 calls to the Call Center
- 3,419 calls screened as positive for testing
- 3,012 tests ordered
- 1,409 test results returned (turnaround time from Quest is up to 7 days)
- 97 COVID-19 positive test results
- 6.9 percent of returned results have been positive
Here is a look at the ages of those who have called into the Call Center for a screening, and the percentage of males and females:
Gender at birth
Business Loans During COVID-19 Pandemic
From Kassouf & Co
April 1, 9:59 - On March 27, 2020, Congress passed, and the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act ("CARES Act"). This legislation includes several elements designed to provide assistance to both businesses and individual taxpayers affected by the economic impact of COVID-19. The key provision that immediately impacts businesses struggling to generate cash needed to pay wages, rent, utilities and debt obligations is known as the Paycheck Protection Program. This program is designed to augment existing financing options available from the Small Business Administration.
We evaluated the provisions of this bill to present you with options that not only provide you the quickest short-term options but also provide you with longer-term options for relief in the event this event continues longer than expected.
Generally, as businesses are seeking funding during this time, most are evaluating three options:
- Traditional bank financing with a business line of credit
- A disaster assistance loan under the Small Business Administration
- The Paycheck Protection Program created under the CARES Act
It is important to remember that each business situation is unique, and solutions should always be tailored for each situation. The needs for each business will differ based on projected decline in revenues, expected levels of payroll, debt and rent obligations and other expenses. We are still awaiting guidance from the SBA regarding existing and new SBA programs; as more is known, we will update our analysis.
Moreover, the loan decision directly impacts the ability of the company to utilize some of the payroll tax relief provisions found in the CARES Act. An employer is precluded from receiving tax credits for payroll if the employer receives a Paycheck Protection Program loan. In addition, the forgiveness provisions of the Paycheck Protection Program do not apply for employers which defer payment of employer-side Social Security taxes.
We recommend businesses first seek traditional bank financing utilizing a line of credit since those funds can generally be accessed quickly. Most businesses have existing banking relationships which could speed the process of establishing borrowing lines of credit. Others have established lines of credit in place, even if the balance has never been utilized. This helps to reduce the time needed to access cash needed for things such as payroll, rent, etc.
For most businesses, we next recommend seeking funding under the Paycheck Protection Program. This Program was created to provide relatively quick funding to assist companies with expenses such as payroll, rent, utilities and interest payments. These loans are unsecured and without recourse if the proceeds are used for purposes outlined in the act. In addition, this loan is eligible for cancellation, income tax free, and deferral of payments may be available under the Program. While the disaster assistance loan remains an option (particularly for businesses not eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program), we believe the Paycheck Protection Program is the best option for most businesses with payroll due to the ease of application, the expected speed of processing and the loan forgiveness provision.
The amount available under this Program is formula driven and is generally based on their "payroll costs" as defined in the CARES Act. The formula requires analysis of payroll components and will require some analysis to obtain the information required for the calculation. We believe it is imperative that qualifying companies apply as soon as the program is available. To that end, we recommend you immediately gather the information needed to complete the calculation required for the loan application.
You will need the following items needed for each month from April 1, 2019 throughout March 31, 2020 if the application is submitted in April 2020:
- Net payments for salary, wage, commission or similar compensation
- Net payments for cash tips or equivalent
- Net payments for vacation, parental, family, medical or sick leave
- Net allowances for dismissal or separation
- Payments required for the provisions of group health care benefits, including insurance premiums
- Payments of any retirement benefit
- Payment of State or Local taxes assessed on the compensation of employees
- Payments of any compensation to or income of a sole proprietor or independent contractor that is a wage, commission, income, net earnings from self-employment, or similar compensation and that is an amount that is not more than $100,000 in a 1 year, as prorated for the period
- Net compensation of an individual employee in excess of an annual salary of $100,000 as prorated in covered period
- Taxes imposed or withheld under chapters 21, 22 or 24 of Internal Revenue Code of 1986 during the covered period (Generally Social Security, Medicare and Federal Withholding Taxes)
- Any compensation of an employee whose principal place of residence is outside of the United States
- Net payments for qualified sick leave wages for which a credit is allowed under section 7001 of Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116-127)
- Net payments for qualified family leave wages for which a credit is allowed under section 7003 of Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116-127)
Much of this information will be available directly from your payroll service provider or from reports from your payroll software.
In many instances, the disaster assistance loan from the Small Business Administration could still be a concurrent option for businesses. This loan provides up to $2 million of financial assistance for small business or private, non-profit organizations that suffer substantial economic injury as a result of a declared disaster, regardless of whether the applicable sustained physical damage. This loan is based on expected declines in revenue rather than levels of payroll which might make it a better option for employers with little or no payroll (real estate management and rental companies, companies with low W-2 employee head count, etc.). It is important to remember that while a company that applies under the Paycheck Protection Program is not expressly precluded from utilizing both programs, companies are not allowed to use funds from both programs to fund the same expenses.
We stand ready to assist with loan application calculations and applications and are available to assist with this process. Don't hesitate to contact us if we can help in any way.
April 1, 8:15 - UAB and Ascension St. Vincent's are working with LifeSouth Community Blood Centers and the American Red Cross to provide opportunities where those in good health can safely donate while maintaining social distancing. Individuals can donate blood every six weeks. Donors will need a photo ID and must make an appointment online.
Here are the updated hours and available appointments at both locations:
Prince of Peace Catholic Church
4600 Preserve Parkway, Hoover
Appointments available for April 1-3, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Schedule appointment online: www.lifesouth.org
St Vincent's One Nineteen
7191 Cahaba Valley Road, Birmingham
Appointments available for Friday, April 3
Schedule appointment online: www.redcrossblood.org
List of Closed Businesses
March 27, 3:04 - A new health order requires the closure of certain "non-essential" businesses in Alabama. This order is effective March 28 at 5 p.m. The order defines affected businesses and activities that include entertainment venues, athletic facilities, close-contact service providers, and retail stores. The order is in effect until 5 p.m. April 17 when a determination on extending the order will be made.
A previous order concerning day care centers is unchanged, and earlierhealth orders regarding on-premise consumption of food or drink at restaurants and bars remain in effect. Except for certain situations that are described in the health order, elective dental, medical and surgical procedures are to be postponed until further notice.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said, "Everyone plays a critical role in protecting others and is encouraged to spend as much time as possible at home to prevent an increase in new infections."
The list of businesses, venues, and activities below will be closed to non-employees or not take place:
· Night clubs
· Bowling alleys
· Concert venues
· Theaters, auditoriums, and performing arts centers
· Tourist attractions (including museums and planetariums)
· Indoor children's play areas
· Adult entertainment venues
· Bingo halls
· Venues operated by social clubs
Athletic facilities and activities:
· Fitness centers and commercial gyms
· Spas and public or commercial swimming pools
· Yoga, barre, and spin facilities
· Spectator sports
· Sports that involve interaction with another person of closer than 6 feet
· Activities that require use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment
· Activities on commercial or public playground equipment
Close-contact service providers:
· Barber shops
· Hair salons
· Waxing salons
· Threading salons
· Nail salons and spas
· Body-art facilities and tattoo services
· Tanning salons
· Massage-therapy establishments and massage services
· Furniture and home-furnishings stores
· Clothing, shoe, and clothing-accessory stores
· Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores
· Department stores
· Sporting goods stores
· Book, craft, and music stores
The public is reminded to stay home if sick except to seek medical care, cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands often, avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, and keep a six-foot distance between yourself and others. Fines for each violation of the health order are up to $500.
The Alabama Department of Public Health encourages the public to keep informed by visiting alabamapublichealth.gov.
Governor Ivey Issues Business Closures
March 27 12:35 - Governor Kay Ivey has issued a specific list of business that are required to close from March 28 until April 17.
From the Governor:
As of this morning, 538 people in AL have been diagnosed with #COVID19 & 3 Alabamians have passed. I can't stress to you enough that we must take this deadly virus seriously. I assure you I'm doing everything in my power and using every available resource to protect Alabama.
COVID 19 is a global crisis. There's just no owner's manual on how to do this. This will be hard, but I'm more confident than ever that we'll get through this together.
For more information:
UAB Emergency Blood Drive at Colonnade This Week
March 22, 5:09 pm - Blood drives scheduled for next week at UAB are moving to the Colonnade. Our local blood supply is in extremely short supply, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham is strongly urging the public to donate blood. There are safe and effective ways to donate while maintaining social distancing practices.
UAB is holding an emergency blood drive through the end of next week with the American Red Cross and LifeSouth Community Blood Centers.
The UAB drive runs from March 23 through March 27 at 3419 Colonnade Parkway, #400, adjacent to the Flying Biscuit Cafe.
Donors must go online to schedule an appointment to help ensure that other donors and staff are protected. Safe distancing will be observed, and appointments will limit the number of people donating at any one time. Donating blood is safe, and donation staff are disinfecting all surfaces at the donor locations.
Donors should make an appointment at www.redcrossblood.org or LifeSouth. Donors will need a photo ID.
UAB Drive, 3419 Colonnade Parkway, #400
- Monday, March 23, 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., LifeSouth
- Tuesday, March 24, 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., LifeSouth
- Wednesday, March 25, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Red Cross
- Thursday, March 26, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Red Cross
- Friday, March 27, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Red Cross
The drive is co-sponsored by the Flying Biscuit Cafe and Shannon Waltchack, LLC., managers of Colonnade Retail Investors. The Flying Biscuit Café will be providing snacks and drinks for all donors. The restaurant will also provide meals to staff working at the drive and will donate a portion of their proceeds from the week to LifeSouth Community Blood Centers and the American Red Cross, which are not-for-profit agencies.
Appointments for UAB Testing Starts Today; Tests Start Tomorrow
Sunday, March 22, 2:55 pm - Call 205-975-1881 to schedule appointments. The downtown testing site opens at 9:00 am Monday, March 23 at the downtown corner of University Boulevard and 22nd Street South. Testing is available for 250 people per day.
12 Year Old Fighting for Life - COVID 19 Dangerous to All Ages
March 22, 12:49pm -
WHO Officials say 20 coronavirus Vaccines in Development
March 20, 3:10 - The World Health Organization is working with scientists across the globe on at least 20 different coronavirus vaccines with some already in clinical trials in record time -- just 60 days after sequencing the gene.
The vaccines are still a long way away from being available for public use, WHO officials cautioned. Leading scientists say the clinical trials and safety approvals needed to get a workable vaccine to market could take up to 18 months.
UAB Testing Site Opens Monday
March 20, 2:56 pm - UAB will open an appointment-only drive-through testing site this Monday. More information, including phone number, will be posted later today.
UAB Holding Emergency Blood Drive
March 19, 3:51 pm - The blood supply in America and locally is in extremely short supply, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham is urging the public to donate blood -- and there are safe ways to do it, all while maintaining social distancing practices.
UAB is holding an emergency blood drive through the end of next week and asks anyone able to donate to make an appointment to help ensure that donors and staff are protected. There are additional drives or fixed donor locations provided by the American Red Cross and LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, which are also accepting donations by appointment.
Donors must go online to schedule an appointment. Safe distancing will be observed, and appointments will limit the number of people donating at any one time.
Donors should make an appointment at www.redcrossblood.org or LifeSouth. Donors will need a photo ID.
UAB North Pavilion, 18th Street and Sixth Avenue South
- Thursday, March 19, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Red Cross
- Friday, March 20, 9:30 am.-5:30 p.m., LifeSouth
- Monday, March 23, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., LifeSouth
- Tuesday, March 24, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., LifeSouth
- Wednesday, March 25, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Red Cross
- Thursday, March 26, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Red Cross
- Friday, March 27, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Red Cross
Donors can give blood up to six times a year, every eight weeks. The process takes about 45 minutes and the actual blood collection usually takes less than 20 minutes.
Blood products are used during surgery, transplantation, trauma care, difficult pregnancies and cancer treatment. It is not unheard-of for a single patient to require as many as 100 units.
Governor Ivey & Alabama Department of Public Health Issue Statewide Health Order
March 19, 1:43 pm - Statewide through April 5:
All gatherings of 25 persons or more, or gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are prohibited. This Order shall apply to all gatherings, events or activities that bring 25 or more persons in a single room or single space at the same time.
Any restaurant, bar, brewery or similar establishments shall not permit on-premise consumption of food or drink. Governor Ivey continues to encourage patrons to visit their local eateries for take-out or delivery provided the social distancing protocols include maintaining a consistent six-foot distance between persons are followed.
All beaches will be closed effective today at 5:00 p.m. For clarification, the term "beach" means the sandy shoreline area abutting the Gulf of Mexico, whether privately or publicly owned, including beach access points.
Preschools and childcare centers will be closed effective at close of school or business today. This shall not apply to licensed childcare centers that provide services exclusively to employees with: State and Local Governments, First Responders (including EMS and Fire Services), Law Enforcement, Hospitals, Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities (including Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities), End Stage Renal Disease Treatment Centers, Pharmacies and grocery stores.
Effective immediately, all Hospitals and Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities (including Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities) shall prohibit visitation of all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations such as maternity and end-of-life.
All elective dental and medical procedures shall be delayed, effective immediately.
Alabama Bans Gatherings and Orders Restaurants to Cease Dine-In
March 19, 12:03 pm - State Health Officer Scott Harris has issued a statewide ban on gatherings of 25 people or more, ordered restaurants to cease dine-in service, prohibited visitation at nursing homes, closed all schools and day cares, and public and private beaches until April 6.
These and other measures included in the order are aimed at limiting the spread of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19. The order's protective measures mirror steps already taken in Jefferson and in Mobile county.
The true extent of the virus is unknown. The number of confirmed cases does not equate to the prevalence of the virus in a county. Testing has been slow to deploy. Results are not delivered for 24 to 72 hours. In some cases, long lines form at announced test sites, overwhelming their ability to take samples, and perhaps indicating high demand.
States without Mandated Closures
March 19, 10:46 - There are just seven states that have not taken any official action regarding COVID-19. Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho, and Wyoming have taken no official measures to ban large gatherings or mandate closures, thus far.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act - What Employers Need to Know
From Burr Forman
March 19, 10:02 am - On March 18, 2020, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the "Act"), which is comprehensive legislation intended to target economic issues arising from the coronavirus ("COVID-19") during this economic crisis. Two provisions stand out for employers: the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.
Both provide paid, job-protected leave for employee absences related to COVID-19. The Act is not currently the law, as it is awaiting the President's signature. Even after enactment, the two provisions would go into effect no late" than 15 days later. This update covers the changes passed by the House on Monday night, which were then passed by the Senate on March 18. Importantly, the modified bill, which the Senate has approved, makes a critical change to the bill initially passed by the House on Saturday.
Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act
The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, ("Emergency FMLA") which adds a new job-protected leave entitlement to Section 102(a)(1) of the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). Once Emergency FMLA takes effect, an eligible employee is entitled to a total of 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period (ending on December 31, 2020) if the eligible employee is unable to work (or telework) to care for a son or daughter under 18 years of age if the child's school or care provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency. When foreseeable, employees must give their employers notice before taking Emergency FMLA. Employers should note that this revision limits the availability of Emergency FMLA from what the House initially passed on March 14.
Perhaps the most important part of the FMLA amendment is the new definition of "employer" - employers with fewer than 500 employees must provide Emergency FMLA to eligible employees, as opposed to the FMLA's familiar "50 or more employees" definition. However, the Act states that employers who do not employ "50 or more employees for each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year "will not be subject to civil actions by employees for violation of Emergency FMLA. Even so, employers who do not meet the "50 or more employees" definition are subject to civil liability in proceedings brought by the Secretary of Labor. Notably, the Act gives authority to the Secretary of Labor to issue regulations excluding certain health care providers and emergency responders, as well as exempting small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the Emergency FMLA requirements when the requirements could "jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern."
To read the full article go to:
UAB Physician Tests Positive
March 18, 2:48 pm - Michael Saag, MD, a physician in the UAB Division of Infectious Disease, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). He wishes to make his case known as an example of the COVID-19 reality and the importance of practicing aggressive social distancing. Dr. Saag was exposed on a family visit to New York City. Dr. Saag and UAB are taking precautionary measures to promote a safe environment, and will diligently work with health department officials to identify and notify anyone who may have been exposed.
Alabama Company Launches One-Day COVID 19 Test
March 18, 12:12 pm - Huntsville biological testing company Diatherix has announced a new test for the COVID-19 infection that offers one-day results. The company has already begun accepting test samples.
"We get the specimen, we will report it out that afternoon," Diatherix laboratory director Jeff Wisotzkey, PhD said.
Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers said that his facility has been getting next-day results from the state health laboratory in Montgomery and using a courier to get the tests to the state laboratory as quickly as possible.
"They can use us, and they are a client already set up," Wisotzkey, said today of the city hospital. "We are available for them to send us testing, and we have been in contact with them."
According to Huntsville's HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology where Diatherix is located:
"Diatherix has developed the new COVID-19 Panel which includes the SARS-CoV-2 virus along with five bacterial pathogens which are known to be more prevalent and relevant to the severity of complications in both upper and lower respiratory tract infections. Further, to simplify collection for healthcare practitioners, Diatherix is ready to receive respiratory specimens, such as nasopharyngeal specimen collection methods and sputum specimen swabs."
COVID 19 Testing at Church of the Highlands
March 18, 11:00 am - Birmingham-based Assurance Scientific Labs has developed a test for COVID-19 which received FDA clearance to begin testing the week of March 12th.
The Church of the Highlands is offering the test through a drive-through at their main Grant's Mill Campus at 4700 Highlands Way in Irondale.
Testing resources are scarce nationally and are limited to those experiencing symptoms of cough or fever or persons who have had direct in-person exposure to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Please help protect these resources by not presenting if you are not certain you need to be tested. Test results will be delivered within 72 hours of testing.
- Those who arrive for testing will be asked pre-screening questions to gain access.
- In the interest of public health, all persons must remain in their vehicles with their windows rolled-up.
- As you are presenting for a possible contagious disease, no restroom facilities will be available.
- If you consider yourself in need of COVID-19 testing, you are declaring you should self-quarantine until such time you receive a negative COVID-19 test result.
- Only Alabama residents are qualified at this testing site.
Lab testing will be billed through patients' insurance provider, including all major carriers, Medicare, and Medicaid. Church of the Highlands, Assurance Scientific, and Christ Health Center have established a fund to cover fees for those without insurance. No one will be turned away for inability to pay.
Christ Health Center is in partnership with Church of the Highlands, Assurance Scientific, and in consultation with Jefferson County Department of Public Health and local hospital authorities.
UAB Will be Able to Test for COVID-19 by Late this Week
March 17 - Researchers with the UAB Department of Pathology are collaborating with Children's to increase the testing capability of COVID-19 for hospitals and health care facilities across Alabama.
Testing for COVID-19 has been limited in Alabama as more people are exposed to the virus, creating a strain on all health care workers.
Sixto Leal, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, UAB Pathology, is spearheading this effort.
"This test should be available by the end of this week and will allow us to begin processing 100 tests per day," Leal said. "We will be testing primarily priority in-patients at UAB Hospital so we can preserve negative pressure rooms. Within three to four weeks, we hope to have 800 tests per day."
A new update from the CDC for UAB's testing includes the ability to work directly with the Alabama Department of Public Health instead of having to wait for guidance from the FDA.
"We are also working with diagnostic test companies on multiple platforms and multiple systems to increase capacity," Leal said. "One of the issues we're facing nationwide is that there is such a demand for reagents to do these diagnostic tests, and the reagents are not available. That's why we're going the LDT route, which is a laboratory developed test. Developing our own tests enables us to obtain the reagents to be able to perform the tests. So a lot of commercial manufacturers are ramping up their production, which makes tests available, and we're working to bring up several of these here at UAB."