The number of coronavirus cases in Tuscaloosa County is on the rise but state and local healthcare officials say the spike is more institutional than widespread.

19 residents and eight staff members have recently tested positive for the coronavirus at Forest Manor Nursing Home in Northport.

According to Forest Manor, over 80 residents were tested in the facility and they notified the county and state health department of the results, as well as all resident and staff member’s families.

Sources say the nursing home was disinfected by an Alabama National Guard Decontamination Team on May 13. However, cases spread rapidly throughout the nursing home in recent days.

Some employees who do not want to be identified claim the nursing home administration was slow taking action which could have contributed to the rapid spread.

“Hotspots can be created by cases at a facility, say a nursing home or a work place or be widespread,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris replied in response to a media question during this morning’s virtual press conference with U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

Dr. Harris identified the reason for the recent COVID-19 increase locally as being, “…clearly a hotspot in Tuscaloosa County attributable to a skilled nursing facility. A lot of those went to the major hospital there in Tuscaloosa County (DCH & DCH Northport)”

A slight increase in the number of tests conducted is not the culprit as much as, “…that one particular facility there,” according to Dr. Harris.

DCH is currently treating 85 patients for the virus. 25 of them are in intensive care with 12 on ventilators.

Thru May 26 DCH Health Systems COO Paul Betz told a Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama virtual meeting this morning, he had seen ups and downs with the numbers but overall things had been pretty steady. Then through the weekend until today (Thursday), “…there have been some substantial increases”.

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