State, local health officials address ‘out of control’ increase of COVID-19 cases in Marshall County


MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala.- The number of positive novel coronavirus cases across Alabama is steadily increasing.

Marshall County is seeing one of the biggest spikes.

Wednesday, state and local health leaders gathered at the county courthouse in Guntersville to speak about what may have caused this and how the spread of the deadly disease can be stopped.

Marshall Medical Centers chief nursing officer Kathy Woodruff described the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Marshall County as “out of control.”

According to Alabama Department of Public Health’s Judy Smith, there were nearly 1,200 positive cases in Marshall County as of Wednesday morning.

She said more than 100 of those have been in the last three days and a third of the total positive cases have come in the last two weeks, right after Gov. Kay Ivey’s amended safer at home order went into effect.

She and Woodruff said once that happened, coupled with the Memorial Day holiday, more people started getting out.

“We are out and about but the virus is also out and about,” said Smith.

“You need to make an assumption that every person you come in contact with is positive. That’s the only way we can try to keep this virus from spreading and get control of it,” said Woodruff.

The local and state health officials said the novel coronavirus is not something that should be taken lightly.

“This one is deadly,” exclaimed Smith. “We need to move from a mode of reaction to a mode of prevention.”

“We want everybody to understand that it’s real, that it is in Marshall County and we need to take it seriously,” said Marshall County Emergency Management Agency director Anita McBurnett.

They all said the solution is the same one from months ago: mask use, social distancing, and proper hand sanitation.

“We have the capability, the simple capability, of eradicating this or mitigating this, but it’s in our hands,” Smith said. “But everybody has to be a part of it. Please don’t be the weak link that messes up this county, that messes up your hospital, that puts us back into a more lockdown control situation.”

Woodruff told WHNT News 19 that there are currently 17 in-patients at Marshall Medical Centers. Two are on ventilators, but the rest are on the surgical floor.

“They range anywhere from in their 20s to their 90s. So, this virus doesn’t care. It doesn’t care how old you are. It doesn’t care how young are. It doesn’t care whether you have a job. It’s contagious and it effects all kinds of people in all walks of life,” explained Woodruff.

Since March, the hospital has tested just over 1,000 sick patients. In the last week, they have seen 58 positive results.

Smith explained that the recovery rate is about 50% but those are tentative numbers from patients who are presumed to not have any health issues once they complete their quarantine period.

Woodruff added that the increase in positive COVID-19 cases in Marshall County is likely not due to increased testing.

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