Alabama expands COVID-19 testing to asymptomatic, high-risk patients

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The daily number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen in Alabama for five out of the last six days. Wednesday, the Alabama Department of Public Health announced it is expanding its COVID-19 testing.   

The new focus is aimed at people who could potentially face more serious health problems, or death, given their underlying medical conditions.

The new testing criteria – which had previously focused on individuals with symptoms or recent contact with a person who’d been infected — also now includes people with no symptoms but underlying health conditions, long-term care facility patients, health workers and first-responders with symptoms.

The state says the move follows the U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidance.

While discussion for weeks has included concerns about testing capacity in Alabama, it sounds like that might be changing.

State health officials said today, that between commercial labs, clinical facility testing and the state lab, they believe that 3,000 to 5,000 tests a day is a realistic target statewide.

Alabama reports it there have been 115,173 tests COVID-19 in the state as of Thursday afternoon.    

Those eligible for testing at state testing sites include people without symptoms who have underlying medical conditions or a disability placing them at a higher risk of complications.  

There is no cost for tests done by ADPH. As part of the screening process, ADPH says, people will have to answer questions about their medical history

In the 347 deaths attributed to COVID-19, state records show most of those patients had underlying conditions: 62 percent — heart disease; 39 percent – diabetes; 25 percent – chronic lung disease; 25 percent – chronic kidney disease;  21 percent — compromised immune system; 55 percent –multiple underlying conditions.

For more information on COVID-19 testing, you can visit the Alabama Department of Public Health’s website or call the state’s COVID-19 24/7 hotline at 1-888-264-2256 to ask for free or low-cost testing in your area. Interpreters are available

Huntsville Hospital reported Thursday it has four COVID-19 in-patients in Madison County, all in Huntsville three of the four patients are on ventilators. There are still six in-patients at Helen Keller Memorial, five at Marshall South, one in Athens, and one in Decatur – a total of 17 across the Huntsville Hospital system. Crestwood reports three COVID-19 in-patients – one on a ventilator.

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