Alabama has reported its first death from the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The Jackson County Commission, in a statement posted to their Facebook page Wednesday, said a county employee died from the virus.
“The Jackson County Commission and the employees of the county offer the family of one of our part-time employees its heartfelt sympathy in the passing of their loved one,” Jackson County Commission chair Tim Guffey wrote in a letter.
Guffey said the Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed the employee passed away after contracting COVID-19. Gov. Kay Ivey later confirmed the death. (Updated at 8:35 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25)
“It is with profound sadness that I confirm that one of our citizens has passed away from the COVID-19 virus,” Ivey said. “I extend my prayers and deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones during these extraordinary circumstances. I continue to urge everyone that this virus is real, it is deadly, and we should continue to maintain social-distancing as much as possible. Together, we will overcome these challenges and difficult days.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health said the individual previously tested positive for COVID-19, and their death marks the first in an Alabama resident with a positive test. The patient had underlying health problems and passed away in a facility outside the state of Alabama, ADPH said. The patient was a resident of Jackson County. (Updated at 8:35 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25)
“We express our deepest sympathy to the family and loved ones of the patient who died, as well as to the families of everyone who has been affected by this outbreak,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris. “The health of our residents and the community is our greatest priority, and we will continue working together to care for the patients, protect the safety of health care workers, and protect the people in our state.”
Guffey said that the employee’s work area will be fully sanitized and “checked thoroughly” before any employees are allowed to return to work when the court house opens sometime after April 6.
“From the date the part-time employee last worked, the expected incubation period has now expired,” Guffey said, reassuring county residents that the employee worked in a department that did not regularly require contact with the public.
No other county employees who worked in the same department have reported any symptoms associated with the virus, Guffey said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Alabama Department of Public Health has confirmed 283 cases of the virus in the state. So far, ADPH has not publicly confirmed the death. It may be included in the department’s Wednesday evening update.
An APR analysis found this morning that more than 100 people are hospitalized across Alabama with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis or an illness the hospital suspects as being the virus. There are likely to be more.
At UAB alone, at least 60 patients are being treated for the virus. More than half of the 60 patients are on ventilators. Dozens more are under investigation and waiting on test results.