HUNTSVILLE, AL – Thirteen Redstone Arsenal employees have tested positive for COVID-19, Lt. Gen. Edward Daly with Redstone Arsenal said during Friday’s Huntsville-area briefing.
Daly said none of the employees that tested positive reside on the Arsenal.
Madison County recorded its first death associated with the virus Friday morning. As of Friday afternoon, there are 567 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 44 cases in Madison County. The Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed a total of three people, from Jackson, Lauderdale and Madison counties, have died from the virus.
EMA Director Jeff Birdwell said five people are hospitalized with the virus at Huntsville Hospital. No COVID-19 hospitalizations are reported at Crestwood Medical Center.
Madison Mayor Paul Finley stressed the importance of social distancing to flatten the COVID-19 curve, even as the weather warms up. He was asked a number of questions about whether local officials would consider a stricter, shelter-in-place order. Similar to efforts to Birmingham and Tuscaloosa. Finley said they continue to communicate with state heath officials and are following that guidance.
He was also asked what it would take for stricter measures to be implemented.
“The answer to your question is when we need to,” Finley said. “When we need to continue to take the next step, we will. You know I recognize there’s been three questions on that because in essence it’s the ambiguity of what’s right and what’s wrong. We continue to defer to ADPH, to our medical professionals each and every day.
“When you’re in this situation, our goal is to take care of our citizens, in all facets, in all aspects. And so, when we need to that, conferring with them, I can assure you we can take the next level. The pieces ADPH have put in place help us as a community continue to navigate through this. It’s a great question, and its one that we struggle with each and every day to get the right answer, but I think in this case we defer to them and if we need to take the next step we will.”
Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public of Health said the labs are now trying to get results back within 96 hours, which is a longer turnaround time than the department had previously announced. Landers said she knows there are a number of people awaiting test results, perhaps beyond the time-range they had been told to expect results by.
Landers encouraged people still waiting for test results to contact their doctor or the hospital that provided the test.
Daly said Redstone Arsenal is taking proactive measures to reduce the spread of the virus. He said Fox Army Health Center will remain open. A drive-through pharmacy was opened for refills. He added they have consolidated child development centers and school-aged services to a single location. Hours at Gate 8 were expanded and Gate 3 and 10 were closed.
Finley praised the community for using phone and online services instead of going to city hall in person.