MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — More than 450 health care workers in Alabama have been infected with COVID-19 as the total cases in the state neared 3,000, the Alabama Department of Public Health said Friday.
The Alabama Department of Public Health said that 464 employees in hospitals and doctors’ offices have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began in Alabama. Infections in health care workers accounted for more than 15% of all cases in the state.
Alabama reached nearly 3,000 confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday— increasing by 1,000 over just five days. The virus has been blamed for at least 80 deaths in the state.
“We are still climbing. That’s why social distancing, staying at home, wearing a mask is so important,” U.S. Sen. Doug Jones said in a Friday news conference with Jefferson County Health Officer Mark Wilson.
Another 116 employees at long-term care facilities and 97 patients at long-term-care facilities have tested positive for COIVD-19.
South Haven Health and Rehabilitation Hoover nursing home confirmed to news outlets this week that 17 residents and 19 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. The facility said they began testing residents and employees as a proactive measure to contain the spread of the virus.
At the end of the week, African Americans accounted for about 55% of COVID-19 deaths in Alabama, although the state is 26% black. Wilson said they are reviewing data for Jefferson County but noted the historical disparities in health and access to health care resources.
“This pandemic basically puts a magnifying class on existing disparities,” Wilson said.
Alabama officials urged people to continue to practice social distancing even through the Easter weekend. In an Easter message, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said people will be gathering in prayer via streamed church services instead of attending in-person gatherings.
“I know this year’s Easter isn’t what we are used to. This too shall pass,” Ivey said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms or be fatal.