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'Be extremely careful': Helen Keller Hospital warns Shoals community leaders about coronavirus spread

The president of Helen Keller Hospital says the area is "ballooning" with rising coronavirus cases.

Posted: May 14, 2020 12:58 PM
Updated: May 14, 2020 11:15 PM

In an email obtained by WAAY 31, Helen Keller Hospital President Kyle Buchanan is warning business and civic leaders about concerns over the growing number of coronavirus cases in the Shoals.

The email was sent the afternoon of Wednesday, May 13. Buchanan told WAAY 31 he did send the email to several community letters and some mayors in the Shoals. WAAY 31 confirmed Mayor Steve Holt of Florence received the email.

WAAY31 spoke with Buchanan about his email. He said it's a message that needs to be heard. Helen Keller Hospital sent a press release Thursday to the media about the coronavirus increases Buchanan discussed in his Wednesday email.

"We're not out of the woods at all. We're in the thick of it we believe," said Buchanan as he spoke with WAAY31.

As of Thursday afternoon coronavirus cases in Colbert, Franklin, and Lauderdale counties are more than 460. When Buchanan sent the email Wednesday afternoon there were 441 cases combined in the counties.

"We will encounter people here that have a positive COVID-19 and as we have conversations with them to understand how they contracted it they have no clue. Several times they are facing difficult decisions with their family and are becoming increasingly sick without any idea of how they are contracting the disease so it's extremely difficult," said Buchanan.

Buchanan said he sent the email to business and local leaders to give them the facts. While the state is opening up, this is no time to let our guard down.

"Several of them have us the question of things are getting better we understand the infections have lessened in the shoals area and today were saying that has not happened to the degree that any of us are comfortable so take that in mind when developing your city plans so everyone can remain safe," said Buchanan.

During our interview with Buchanan he removed his mask and held it in his hand until he was done answering questions then he put it back on. He said wearing a mask is one way to protect people from whatever you might have especially with people being asymptomatic.

He said washing hands and not becoming complacent in your sanitizing will hopefully help Shoals numbers level off.

The full email Buchanan sent business and civic leaders is below: 

Civic and Business Leaders,

Many of you asked local healthcare leaders to lend a perspective regarding reopening activities in northwest Alabama. While there is reason to be optimistic, there is also reason to be extremely careful, especially now.

Our journey with COVID-19 began on Friday, March 19th with the first confirmed positive case in northwest Alabama. The number of COVID-19 cases in northwest Alabama grew from one case to near 100 cases on April 30th. Our trajectory at the time showed slow growth indicative of significant control of spread and tracked favorably compared to the rest of the state.

Then, May happened.

Our number of confirmed cases ballooned from 124 to 441 in the first 13 days of May, as indicated below.

Although the Huntsville area is 174% more populous than northwest Alabama, this afternoon, our total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Colbert, Franklin and Lauderdale Counties combined surpassed that of Madison, Limestone and Morgan counties combined.

Likewise, in the most recent 13 days, we experienced a threefold increase in the number of patients who were admitted to local hospitals with COVID-19, several in critical condition.

Yes, Franklin County holds the home addresses of many of the newly discovered cases. However, most COVID-19 positive patients on our radar work, buy groceries, and have family connections throughout Colbert and Lauderdale Counties, as we all would expect.

While we all want normalcy as soon as possible, we are concerned about a return to normal daily activity while our beloved corner of Alabama encounters far more aggressive infection rates than most Alabama communities. Based on this data, extreme caution should be taken in the coming days and weeks in order to prevent a severe outbreak in our local community.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 233569

Reported Deaths: 2952
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby34523553
Davidson29914326
Knox1193687
Hamilton11197103
Rutherford11090106
Williamson665649
Sumner5664107
Wilson443153
Putnam415653
Montgomery387251
Out of TN377535
Unassigned37264
Madison363079
Bradley343421
Sullivan324845
Sevier317321
Blount313932
Washington313244
Maury308135
Robertson249839
Hamblen233843
Tipton220622
Gibson205938
Dyer203726
Hardeman179532
Coffee177420
Trousdale17437
Obion164918
Bedford159620
Dickson157318
Fayette157022
Anderson156713
Greene156551
Wayne15657
Loudon155010
McMinn152232
Cumberland150124
Lawrence147918
Jefferson146619
Weakley144425
Carter142832
Monroe137027
Henderson136125
Warren135110
Hardin132219
Lauderdale131918
Macon126324
Franklin122816
Roane12017
Haywood119526
Overton113311
Johnson11067
Hawkins110524
White110214
Carroll109424
McNairy109126
Marshall10568
Rhea104916
Cheatham97311
Lake9703
Smith94713
Cocke92612
Bledsoe9244
Giles90134
Campbell8857
Fentress8618
Lincoln8142
Crockett78321
Henry74610
Hickman74413
Chester71314
Marion7089
DeKalb67716
Decatur62811
Grainger5394
Grundy5248
Claiborne5046
Union4992
Polk47413
Jackson4225
Humphreys4154
Morgan4116
Houston39215
Benton3919
Cannon3872
Clay37112
Unicoi3672
Lewis3522
Scott3324
Sequatchie3294
Stewart3117
Meigs2965
Pickett2495
Moore2452
Perry2081
Van Buren1911
Hancock1123

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