Editor's note: This story has been updated from its original publication to include a comment from DCH Health System.
TUSCALOOSA, AL. — DCH Health System on Monday reported a new influx of inpatients testing positive for the coronavirus, after what appeared to be a slight reprieve in new cases to start the month of November. The rise in local patients requiring hospital care also comes amid a statewide and nationwide surge in new cases and hospitalizations.
DCH Health System logged 21 new COVID-19 inpatient cases as of 4:21 p.m. Monday, bringing the total number at present to 72. City of Tuscaloosa officials have stated on numerous occasions that their threshold for concern for the hospital system is more than 60 inpatient cases and previously expressed optimism as local hospitalizations seemingly lagged national trends in recent weeks.
DCH Vice President of Marketing and Communications Andy North told Patch on Monday that the system has not established a specific threshold for concern to his knowledge, but said "regardless of any numbers, we encourage the community to avoid group gatherings and to continue to wear masks, socially distance and hand wash regularly."
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The number of inpatients is also the highest reported by the hospital system since Oct. 27, when DCH saw the same number of patients receiving on-site treatment. However, the current number is still well-short of when the system topped triple-digit inpatient totals in late July.
Of the patients currently being treated, 20 are being cared for in the system's intensive care units (ICUs), which is unchanged in total from two weeks ago.
Conversely, DCH also said a cumulative total of 1,267 coronavirus-positive inpatients have been discharged after being hospitalized.
To date, 236 inpatients who tested positive for COVID-19 have died at DCH, according to the latest update. However, the hospital points out that those numbers may not be a complete indication of the cause of death, but that the patients were positive for COVID-19 at the time of their death.
The news of increased hospitalizations in Tuscaloosa County comes as the county added 43 new cases Monday, according to Bamatracker.com, bringing the total to more than 8,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Tuscaloosa County (8,015) since the pandemic began. While the county is the seventh most-populous in Alabama, it is currently fifth-highest for the number of cumulative cases among Alabama counties.
While not all patients who died at DCH have been Tuscaloosa residents, Bamatracker.com says the county has seen 146 resident deaths to date — a total which includes probable cases.