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Chambers into “very high risk” category

On Thursday, Chambers County was upgraded from a high-risk county to very high risk by the Alabama Department of Public Health. It is one of five counties in the state to be listed as a very-high risk county.

Overall, there are 20 counties in the state that have a designation of high or very high risk. Most of the state has a moderate designation, while Choctaw County is the only county with a low-risk designation.

The risk levels are based on the extent of COVID-19 in a county.

In the last two weeks, Chambers County has had a spike in COVID-19 cases, totaling 364 new cases in those 14 days. Of those 364 cases, 139 have been reported since Jan. 4.

The sudden increase in cases and quarantines shutd own the Chambers County School District on Tuesday.

Instead of starting back to school on Wednesday as planned, the CCSD announced Jan. 6-8 would be pandemic days. Students and staff were not permitted to be at school campuses or work during the three-day break. Families have an option to send their children to school for traditional learning Jan. 11-15, as the district is allowing the same blended option that was offered in December.

“That is a high number,” CCSD Superintendent Casey Chambley said after Tuesday’s board meeting. “We’ve broken records for staff and employees. We have not even included the number of students … We felt like and thought, from talking to the officials at East Alabama, talking to our directors at the board office and knowing that we were OK on hours and that we had the days, that we needed to look at doing something else on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week.”

On Wednesday, both EAMC and EAMC-Lanier campuses had 80 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. That number rose to 85 on Thursday.

EAMC spokesperson John Atkinson said the number could reach 100 by the end of the month.

“Over the past week, we have averaged about 136 patients a day in the Opelika campus ED and conducted an average of 63 COVID tests a day,” Atkinson said in a press release. “About 23 percent have been positive.”

COVID-19 patients that are hospitalized average a stay of 10.5 days, which is up from four days for a non-COVID patient.