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Jefferson County Health Officer: ‘Many cases we have not detected’

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Mark Wilson, M.D., Jefferson County Health Officer. (Provided Photo)
By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times

As the number of COVID-19 coronavirus cases continues to rise in and around Birmingham, restrictions have been placed on nursing homes, restaurants and schools; the Jefferson County Health Officer ordered no dining in bars or restaurants in the Birmingham area for one week;  and local governments declared states of emergency.

“These are perilous times,” said Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens, after the commission declared a state of emergency and closed the downtown Birmingham and Bessemer courthouses to the public until April 6. “With the social impact on our citizens and the economic impact going forward, it’s going to be a challenging time. But this commission will work together in a bipartisan matter to make sure it’s done properly.”

Jefferson County has 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is more than half of the 29 cases in Alabama while on Monday the County Health Officer Mark Wilson, M.D. said “We do believe there are many, many more cases we have not detected.”

Here are some of the latest developments:

Cooper Green Mercy Health Services

Cooper Green Mercy, currently managed by Jefferson County, has initiated precautionary measures aimed at keeping both patients and staff healthy to serve the indigent citizens.

  1. Appointments – All appointments other than oncology, diagnostic mammograms and ultrasounds, coumadin lab checks, and wound care are being canceled. Anyone scheduled for an appointment will receive a notice and will be rescheduled after April 6 unless the situation changes. Anyone with questions can call 205-930-3350. If who believes they have the virus, call 205-930-3265.
  2. Urgent Care –Urgent Care will remain open from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday – Friday, but officials will prioritize enrollees. The tests for COVID-19 are limited. Those who do not have life threatening symptoms might be asked to quarantine and practice self-care at home after being assessed.

A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club

AGGBGC will to close all clubhouse locations until April 6 and that will include the cancellation of Spring Break Camp during the week of March 23 – 27. During this time, the clubs will deep clean and sanitize its Howlett & Southside Homes locations to ensure that all kids, staff, and volunteers are safe when the Club reopens. In the meantime, all our Club staff, families, and youth are advised to take precautions as recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Community members and parents can follow www.aggbgc.org, for updates and information.

Birmingham Water Works Board

Starting Tuesday, March 17, BWWB will close the lobby of its payment center and main administrative building, with normal hours resuming April 6. During this time, BWWB will continue to accept in-person bill payments via the drive-thru and encourages customers to consider submitting payments via phone or web:

https://www.bwwb.org/paymybill

Leaks can also be reported online at: http://bwwb.org/reportaproblem.

As announced last week, the BWWB has also suspended disconnections on delinquent bills to ensure that customers can practice good hygiene.

Alabama Symphony Orchestra 

ASO has canceled its upcoming performances of Mozart’s 40th Symphony and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. These concerts were scheduled to take place on April 3, 4, and April 24, 25 at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center. Additionally, the ASO will be postponing its upcoming performance of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban  in Concert, which was scheduled to take place on April 18, 19 at Samford University Wright Center.

Ticket holders are asked to hold on to their tickets and await further communications from the ASO for any rescheduled dates. Patrons with questions or who would like to exchange or donate their tickets are asked to call 205-975-2336. Any other questions call 205.314.6915.

No Dining In Bars Or Restaurants

Jefferson County Health Officer Wilson announced that nursing homes in the county will no longer allow most visitors to protect residents from an illness and senior centers will not be allowed to have gatherings.

He also said restaurants, bars and breweries will no longer be allowed to offer on-premises consumption of food or beverages beginning March 17. Carryout will still be allowed, and restaurants are encouraged to offer online ordering and curbside pickup.

Gatherings of 25 people or more, and those where people cannot keep a six-foot distance between attendees, will be banned. Event organizers can apply for exemptions from this order, but it is at the discretion of the health department.

Jeffco, Birmingham States Of Emergency

Jefferson County, Alabama’s most populous county, and Birmingham, the state’s largest city, on Monday put their respective government and city under declarations of emergency due to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Jefferson County commissioners also announced the closure of the downtown Birmingham and Bessemer courthouses to the public until April 6.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said these are unprecedented times for the city and the world and “we are working closely with public health experts to take the most effective steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

The City of Birmingham has established the keyword BHMCOVID to text to 888-777 to receive text messages with information concerning COVID-19.

Citizens are encouraged to use Jefferson County online services at www.jccal.org.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alabama Department of Public Health have published guidance on the virus. Visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus or www.alabamapublichealth.org for more information