Alabama’s first coronavirus patient has been confirmed as a civilian employee at Maxwell Air Force Base.
The Montgomery-based installation said the person had returned home after traveling to Illinois and reported not feeling well. He is being held at off-base medical agencies who are monitoring and treating the individual.
Col. Patrick Carley, 42nd Air Base Wing Commander confirmed the civilian employee is the first coronavirus case in Alabama. Alabama Department of Public Health announced earlier today the state has its first case of COVID-19, a respiratory virus that was first detected in China in December 2019.
“The individual is being evaluated and treated by health care professionals. The continued safety of our community is of upmost importance. We are working with our base medical staff and other off base health care agencies to ensure we mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in accordance with established CDC and DOD guidelines,” Carley said.
Harris said the person had preexisting conditions but did not provide other details on the patient.
Alabama has its first case of COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus.
State Health Officer Scott Harris said the person is in Montgomery County and recently traveled out of state to an area where coronavirus is present. That is the only positive test in the state at this time, Harris said.
The age and their previous health status will not be released at this time. Harris said the patient did meet Centers for Disease Control guidelines for screening. The person, who is isolated at home, is in a high-risk category due to chronic health conditions.
“The Alabama Department of Public Health has worked hard to prepare and has anticipated receiving a report of the first case of COVID-19 in an Alabama resident,” he said during a press conference in Montgomery this morning. “We continue to recommend that people be prudent and encourage them to use proper hygiene behaviors such as handwashing, not touching their faces with unwashed hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if they have fever.”
“As a precaution, it is suggested that any gatherings of more than 500 people be postponed or canceled.”
At this time, Harris said no additional recommendations were being made related to school or business closures but he advised people avoid large gatherings.
Until today’s announcement, Alabama was one of only a handful of states with no confirmed cases of coronavirus. There are more than 1,663 cases nationally with 40 deaths. Thirty-one of the deaths have occurred in Washington state.
Gov. Kay Ivey said the state has taken “precautionary measures and made preparations in the case that the virus would eventually reach our state. As I have emphasized time and again, the safety and health of Alabamians is paramount.”
“Alabamians are smart and savvy, and I know they will continue taking appropriate precautions to prevent the spread to themselves or others. We have taken a calm and collected approach in preparation for this first confirmed case, and we need to remember that calm and steady wins the race. Alabamians should not be fearful, but instead, use commonsense to watch out for themselves and others. We will remain engaged on the matter and continue prioritizing the health and wellbeing of all Alabamians,” Ivey said.
The new coronavirus was first detected in China in 2019. At this time, it’s unclear how easily the virus spreads between people but the rapid transmission had led to travel restrictions across the globe.
Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath that appears anywhere between two to 14 days after exposure. Older adults and people with severe chronic health conditions are considered at higher risk for more serious illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
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How to protect yourself against COVID-19
- According to the Centers for Disease Control, people should do the following to protect themselves from coronavirus:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Practice social distancing (not getting too close to other people). This is especially important for people who are at a higher risk of getting sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Wear a facemask if you are sick; do not wear a facemask if you are not ill.
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