The COVID-19 pandemic continues to paint a bleak picture for Coffee County and Alabama, according to the latest report given by Coffee County EMA director James Brown to Coffee County Commissioners.
During the Monday, Jan. 11, meeting for the Coffee County Commission, Brown said the numbers related to COVID-19 in the county are just unbelievable.
“I really take this personally,” Brown said. “I really feel like I have failed to convince people that this thing is real…that I have failed to convince people to wear masks, social distance, and wash their hands.”
As of Monday morning, Brown said there had been 757 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Coffee County over the past 14 days. He added that deaths for the county were up by five over the last week.
Statistically, Brown said 10 percent of new cases of COVID send the infected person to the hospital.
“We have a 99-bed hospital [in Coffee County] that is either full or near full,” Brown said. “Our hospital workers are over-tasked right now, and it is only going to get worse.”
Across the state, Brown said ICU beds were 96 percent full as of Monday morning. In some areas, he said it was worse than that with some hospitals in the negative area for needed ICU beds.
“We need people to take this [COVID-19 pandemic] seriously,” Brown stressed. “One of the things we can do is the vaccine.”
With the Alabama Department of Public Health [ADPH] opening the vaccine up to all first responders and persons age 75 and older, Brown said it has become obvious that ADPH cannot handle it by itself.
“We need cooperation to get as many providers as we can for administering the vaccine,” Brown said.
He said entities interested in being a vaccine provider could apply for an ImmPrint account through ADPH.
“We are going to have to come together as a group to help ADPH out,” Brown said.
He said ADPH opened up a hotline last week for vaccine appointments, to include people age 75 and older and all first responders, and in the first 24 hours of the hotline being open it had received 1.1 million calls. The hotline had been overwhelmed.
Brown said he had been reaching out to local municipalities asking those entities to consider applying for an ImmPrint account to be able to help with the vaccines. Also, he said he had reached out to some larger industries within the county for the same.
Overall, Brown said the more help that could be provided to ADPH the better.
Commissioners Jimmy Jones said he had spoken with leaders at Medical Center Enterprise and Sessions Peanut Company in Enterprise, and they are willing to help in any way possible.
Commission chairman Dean Smith encouraged commissioners to think over the matter so they too could discuss at their next work session ways to help also.
Coffee County E911 chairman Dean Smith added to Brown’s report saying that Enterprise Rescue had been doing a phenomenal job in covering the county. He said what many people may not realize is that patient transfers right now could include going to Birmingham, Pensacola, etc.
Blair said the longer transfers means having a unit out of service for sometimes up to 8 hours per day for new emergencies, and that requires the EMS folks to scramble to find ways to cover during those times. He said a majority of this too is due to COVID.
Blair said he knows of at least one instance where over a 72-hour period, the local EMS provider received over 100 calls for assistance.
“We have a crisis situation there too,” Blair said regarding emergency medical services.