'The lull before the storm:’ Athens-Limestone Hospital doctor warns of coronavirus surge

Athens-Limestone Hospital says they're prepared for the worst case scenario with the coronavirus, and that's if 30 to 40 percent of people in the county get it.

Posted: Mar 26, 2020 8:02 PM

Gov. Kay Ivey's coronavirus task force includes one representative from here in North Alabama

Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks tells WAAY 31 the task force has daily conversations about the constant changes and measures cities may have to take in the future.

"We're taking every precautions with all information at the city of Athens and the city council has given me some administrative powers much like what the governor has at the local level and i'm reviewing them every day with our staff with other people just to see and put the best practice in place," said Marks.

At a news conference in Limestone County on Thursday, city, county and hospital officials discussed an update on the measures they're taking to be ready for a potential surge in coronavirus cases in our area.

Officials from Athens-Limestone Hospital say they're ready for worst case scenario when it comes to the coronavirus.

And that worst case scenario means prepping for at least 30 percent to 40 percent of the county to get sick.

We asked those hospital officials if they're prepared for even more people to get the coronavirus in Limestone County than their biggest projection.

They told us they have in place certain measures like separating part of the hospital with coronavirus patients, potentially separating intensive care units, and stocking up on ventilators. This is only if there is a major spike in cases, more than what they anticipate.

Hospital officials also said there's a higher mortality rate than the flu and that's because our bodies are not immune to it.

As of Thursday afternoon, there are 12 confirmed coronavirus cases in Limestone County.

One doctor who has been researching the coronavirus from the start at Athens-Limestone Hospital, said we need to take the coronavirus seriously because of what it could do to our upper respiratory system.

"60 to 70 percent of the patients will show significant abnormalities on the cat scan. You will have ground glass appearance when you look at the picture of a person who is seriously ill and their oxygen saturation drops and we have to put them on mechanical ventilation and give the body time to recover," said Dr. Nauman Qureshi, who works at Athens-Limestone Hospital.

He also said, "this probably is the lull before the storm. The storm is still headed this way and we have to not use our sense of prepardness to become complacent and over confident."

So far the hospital has tested about 300 people. There currently are no confirmed coronavirus cases in the hospital and anyone who walks into this facility gets screened, even employees. That includes disclosing any current symptoms and taking your temperature.

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