TUSCALOOSA, AL. — DCH Health System on Saturday reported a fourth straight day of adding ten or more new coronavirus inpatients at its hospitals in Northport and Tuscaloosa, which comes less than a week before Thanksgiving and an expected rise in cases due to holiday gatherings.
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In its latest update, DCH said 13 new inpatients were added Saturday, bringing the overall total of those hospitalized to 74. Of those patients receiving treatment, 19 are currently being cared for in intensive care units. Saturday's total is the highest inpatient number since Nov. 11, when DCH also reported 74 cases and since the system hit 75 inpatient cases during a summer spike when DCH had 75 hospitalizations on Aug. 14.
The latest update provided Saturday by DCH Health System, showing a sharp rise in new COVID-19 hospitalizations (DCH Health System)The new total also comes well above the 60-plus inpatient total mentioned numerous times by city of Tuscaloosa officials as a threshold for concern as cases rise.
Local officials have repeatedly cited community spreading of the coronavirus as contributing to the rise in new cases and hospitalizations, due to public health guidelines not being observed with respect to gatherings.
According to Bamatracker.com, Tuscaloosa County added 70 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the county's cumulative total to 8,797. Of those cases, 1,296 were confirmed in Tuscaloosa over the last two weeks.
A Tuscaloosa County breakdown for Saturday, Nov. 21 from Bamatracker.com, an independent data aggregator widely used across the state of Alabama by public officials (Bamatracker.com)In-person instruction ended for the fall semester on Friday at the University of Alabama, which came on the same day the UA System reported a sharp increase in new cases among students and employees.
Patch reported on Friday that the Tuscaloosa campus saw 115 new cases confirmed among students, marking the first time the number of new positives hit triple digits for a week since the Sept. 11-17 testing period. A total of 27 employees also tested positive over the last week, which is the highest number of new employee cases identified over a single week of testing since the pandemic began.
As cases spread locally, DCH also announced this week that its psychiatric treatment facility, North Harbor Pavilion, is suspending visitation until further notice due to the results of COVID-19 testing, with "five or fewer" North Harbor patients testing positive for COVID-19.
On the testing front, the hospital system's COVID-19 screening and testing service at its remote site in the Laundry Lot west of DCH Regional Medical Center will be closed Nov. 27 for the Thanksgiving holiday. DCH then said the site will be back to its regular hours, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8 a.m.– noon.