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First COVID-19 reported death confirmed in Marengo County

Marengo County has its first “reported death” related to the COVID-19 virus according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. The total cases in the county has increased to 14 as of an ADPH update on Tuesday, 3 p.m.

A reported death represents a person who tested positive for the coronavirus and is now deceased. A review by medical professionals will determine whether the death was directly caused by COVID-19.

Officials with Whitfield Regional Hospital said testing and treatment continues to go as planned, but are continuing to monitor the situation.

“Things are going well under the circumstances, but it is still too early to say whether we have spiked. We had 10 positive cases over the weekend and we have 50 or so tests still out,” said WRH CEO Doug Brewer.

Some of the positive cases tested at the hospital were for residents of neighboring counties, and likewise, several positive cases reported for Marengo County may have tested elsewhere.

Marengo County Emergency Management Director Kevin McKinney told the county commission Friday that the Health Department in Linden would begin testing for the coronavirus on Thursdays.

The drive-through testing at WRH continues on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those tested must meet certain criteria and have a testing order from a physician.

Brewer said the hospital maintains an adequate inventory of personal protective equipment and ventilators. “We have a few patients on ventilators, but we are still very much prepared,” he said.

The concern for health officials is a lack of data in knowing when the positive number of COVID-19 cases will spike and begin to level.

“Everyone is wondering if we are close to the top. Only time will tell whether our numbers will continue to increase or if we will begin to see it level off,” Brewer said.

On a positive note, Brewer said the person who was the first to be postively tested for COVID-19 in Marengo County — a hospital employee — has recovered and returned to work on Tuesday.

Brewer said hospital employees have done a great job in handling the situation. “Our staff continues to step up and are doing a wonderful job taking care of our patients,” Brewer said.

He added that employees have appreciated the support from the community. On April 1, people parked their cars in parking lots and  honked their horns as a show of support for healthcare workers. The “Park and Pray” was part of a nationwide effort to show support to healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Others have made posters of support that are now hanging on the hospital walls.”

“Theses things mean a lot to our employees. They are really sacrificing a lot and are putting their, and their family’s, health on the line everytime they walk in here,” Brewer said.

As of 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Marengo County had 13 positive cases of COVID-19. Most neighboring counties have also seen an increase in postive cases: Wilcox County has 13 cases; Sumter County, 10 cases; Clarke County, nine cases; Greene County, eight cases; Dallas County, seven cases; Choctaw County, six cases; Hale County, five cases; and Perry County, 1 case. There are no COVID-19 releated deaths reported for any of those counties.