As coronavirus cases in Tuscaloosa County continue to rise, local authorities may have identified one possible source for the increase.
Infected college students.
Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue Chief Randy Smith said Tuesday that city officials were able to confirm incidents of students knowingly diagnosed with COVID-19 still choosing to attend parties and gatherings within the city and county.
“We thought that was kind of a rumor at first,” said Smith, who is heading the city of Tuscaloosa’s Incident Command team in response to the coronavirus. “We did some additional research. Not only did the doctors’ offices help confirm it but the state confirmed they also had the same information.”
Smith did not specify how many students knowingly went to these parties or which university or school they attended, but his announcement came as the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at DCH System hospitals in Tuscaloosa and Northport climbed to 53.
This is the highest total of the past seven days, according to data compiled by City Hall, starting with a low of 41 on June 23-24 and then steadily increasing to 45 as of Monday.
Hospitalizations jumped by nine within one day, according to DCH data.
Of these, 19 COVID-19 patients are being treated in the Intensive Care Unit and seven were on ventilators as of Tuesday, according to the latest update from DCH.
Since the coronavirus outbreak arrived in Tuscaloosa County, 69 patients with the disease have have died at DCH, of which 38 were residents of Tuscaloosa County, according to DCH and the Alabama Department of Public Health.
The latest data from the ADPH lists a total of 2,049 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tuscaloosa County with 591 of those coming within the past 14 days.
Across Alabama, a total of 38,442 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed – 10,696 within the past two weeks – and 947 patients with the illness have died.
Reach Jason Morton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Map of coronavirus cases and deaths in the US