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Posted on: March 18, 2020

City Of Opelika COVID-19 UPDATES - April 3, 2020

COVID19 Spotlight

A Message From Mayor Gary Fuller

Hey Friends - Please follow the rules. We can do better Opelika. Limit gatherings. Shelter in place. No large groups or gatherings. We don’t want to inflict mandatory curfews and closures. It’s up to you how we will proceed. We ask that you not congregate in large groups in parks, on practice fields or around town. Help us flatten the curve.

City of Opelika COVID-19 Press Releases

Opelika Municipal Court Order Extended Until April 30 (PDF)

City Buildings Closed Until April 17; Mayor Issues Other Concerns 3-30-20 (PDF)

Mayor Fuller Responds to Gov. Kay Ivey’s Press Conference - 3-27-20 (PDF)

Recycling Centers and Commercial Cardboard Routes Temporarily Closed 3-25-20 (PDF)

City Closes Buildings To Public and Offers Businesses Relief 3-20-20

Emergency Ordinance Concerning COVID-19 Approved 3-17-20 (PDF)

COVID-19 City of Opelika Updates 3-17-20 (PDF)

Opelika Municipal Court Outlines Court Procedures - COVID19 (PDF)

Opelika Municipal Court - FULL ORDER (PDF)

COVID-19 City Departments Take Precautionary Measures 3-13-20 (PDF)

COVID-19 Mayor Fuller Statement 3-13-20 (PDF)

City of Opelika Department Phone Numbers

Department List

Opelika Power Services Billing & Services Information

OPS will continue to bill on schedule each month and payment is due as normal. If payment is not received by the delinquent date, a late fee will be added; however, OPS will not charge a non-payment fee nor will OPS disconnect power if not paid by the disconnect date. 

We encourage you to pay your bill monthly because waiving disconnection and non-payment fees is only an option until April 14. At this time disconnection of services for non-payment would resume on April 15. We will reevaluate this policy again by April 14 to determine if an additional grace period is needed. If you have questions or concerns, call 334-705-5170-Option 3.

Opelika Planning Commission 

March 24 Meeting CANCELLED (PDF)

Governor Ivey Issues Statement on Statewide Public Health Order

Large Retail Stores Updates:

Beginning Saturday morning, Walmart and Lowe’s will be limiting the number of customers in the stores.

Walmart Super Center in Opelika will be limiting the number of customers to 1098 in the store at any one time. There will be a waiting line outside where shoppers can wait, six feet apart, for entrance into the store. Lowe’s will limit customers to no more than 400 in shopping areas at one time and will only have one entry point.

Please be patient and practice appropriate social distancing if you must visit one of these stores.

How You Can Do Your Part To Help Prevent The Spread

  • Do not gather in groups of more than 10 people
  • Maintain 6 feet -- social distancing
  • Order takeout or delivery from local restaurants
  • Limit exposure in public buildings
  • Do not travel out-of-state if it’s not essential
  • Wash your hands
  • Do not touch your face
  • Cover a cough or sneeze
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and doors as often as possible
  • Stay home if you are sick; call EAMC hotline at 334-528-SICK if you are exhibiting an symptoms

East Alabama Medical Center Update (April 1 - 5 p.m.)

EAMC’s Approach to Flattening the Curve

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases that EAMC has reported in recent days may seem high compared to other parts of the state. However, it’s important to remember that EAMC began testing earlier than many other areas of the state and currently accounts for almost 20 percent of all testing in Alabama.  Also, spring break for Auburn University and Auburn City Schools occurred early in the month before travel restrictions were put in place. Due to careful planning and preparation by EAMC’s leadership—and with guidance from Ricardo Maldonado, infectious disease specialist and Brooke Bailey, Infection Prevention director—EAMC organized its 528-SICK call center and drive through testing site before the first case was announced for Lee County. EAMC’s aggressive approach to stopping the spread of the virus includes implementation of a no-visitor policy prior to the state mandate, implementation of daily screenings of all EAMC employees, pleas to the community to shelter in place, and many other clinical preparations behind the scenes. These COVID-19 plans have been in place for weeks to ensure that EAMC is doing everything possible to flatten the curve and stop the spread of the virus in the community.  EAMC’s comprehensive team of highly trained physicians and nursing staff, along with hospital leadership, were able to quickly implement strategies and contingency plans that other hospitals are now using as a guide.

A Plea to Churches

As we continue to screen, test and treat patients, we look for patterns that could help define the situation a little better and perhaps provide insight into slowing the spread of COVID-19.  We started with one confirmed case on Sunday, March 15 and we stand at 47 confirmed cases just 11 days later.  Obviously, a lot of tests have been performed here—over 900 as of today—so that perhaps explains why Lee County has the 3rd most confirmed cases in Alabama.  Also, EAMC now has 15 hospitalized patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19.  While there are no absolute patterns among the 47 confirmed cases in Lee County, one nugget of information does stand out a little—the last public setting for a sizable number of them was at church.  Not at one church, or churches in one town, but at church in general.  While many churches have moved to online services only—or cancelled church services altogether in the interim—there are reports that some still met as recently as last Sunday.  We know that being at church is very sacred to many people, but it’s also a place where people are in very close contact and often greet each other with hugs and handshakes as a ritual.  With that in mind, we again are asking that church members please not gather until our region has been deemed safe for group activities.  Please find alternate ways to worship and stay together as a “church” without congregating.  Thank you very much. 

NO VISITORS

EAMC has made the difficult decision of announcing a NO VISITORS policy starting tomorrow morning (Thursday, March 19) EXCEPT for Pediatrics and Level 2 Nursery (2 primary caregivers), laboring women (1 primary support person), Emergency Department (1 visitor, ED lobby only) and end-of-life circumstances. However, if the attending physician or nurse manager determines that a support person is needed, the family will be contacted to make such arrangements.  “This temporary change is not a step we wanted to make,” said Laura Grill, President and CEO.  “However, with Lee County now having the second most COVID-19 cases in Alabama, we feel that it is extremely important to use this tactic to help flatten the curve of cases.”

What to do if You Think You Have COVID-19

EAMC released information on its website that provides detailed instructions about what to do if residents think they have COVID-19. The information can be found here.  For the latest information and updates on COVID-19 in our community, visit eamc.org/coronavirus.

Changes to Supplies Needed

We are thankful to Auburn University and local businesses that have generously donated needed supplies and equipment. While we are currently stable in the number of ventilators, supplies, and other equipment, we still could use help with certain items.  Businesses with access to the items listed below who wish to donate them may bring them to the collection site outside of EAMC’s Main Lobby between 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. each weekday. An EAMC representative will be there to collect the supplies.

New supplies needed:

  • Bleach wipes (must specify that they kill C. difficile spores) (these are industrial grade and not available in stores)
    • Alcohol wipes
    • Latex-free gloves: exam, nitrile

Additional supplies still being accepted:

  • Isolation gowns: non-sterile, impervious
    • Masks: surgical, procedure, ear loop, ear loop with face shield, or fog-free procedure mask
    • Latex gloves: exam, nitrile or chemo
    • Hand sanitizer: 70% ethyl alcohol

Nursing Home Update

EAMC-owned nursing homes (Oak Park and EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home) have created an “Adopt A Resident” program.  In this program, nursing home staff have each been assigned several residents.  Staff members make time to visit with each of the residents every day.  During this visit, nursing home staff are offering various one-on-one activities. Some of the activities include planting flowers, enjoying a snack, listening to music, and playing dominoes. This social interaction has been very beneficial to the residents. In the days ahead, the nursing homes will be implementing an opportunity for families of their residents to schedule a video chat with their resident. In addition to dedicated one-on-one activities with each resident, the nursing homes are also celebrating residents’ birthdays. Several local schools have sent letters to the residents and the nursing home staff have been delivering the letters to the residents and reading to them.

Nursing Home Update

With nursing homes and other long-term facilities under a state ordered no-visitors policy, some people have asked how they can help. The simplest way to help is by sending a greeting card or letter that could be shared with any of the residents at Oak Park Nursing Home and Independent Living Community, the EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home or at EAMC Skilled Nursing Facility. Proper infection control protocols are in place to ensure this can be done while maintaining the safety of our residents and staff. If the public is interested in sending letters to residents, they can send them to this address:

Nursing Home Resident

Oak Park
1365 Gatewood Drive

Auburn AL 36830

Drive-through Collections Sites

As of Monday afternoon, 69 people had provided specimens for testing at one of four labs.  That’s exactly 600 at that location since last Monday. At EAMC-Lanier, 12 collection kits were taken today.

Screening and Testing

From 7:30 – a.m. – 2 p.m. today, there were 858 calls to the 528-SICK hotline. Since the hotline started on March 2, they have received 6,555 calls.

Hours for our 334-528-SICK hotline are 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.

  • Specimen collection will continue daily at HealthPlus and at EAMC-Lanier, but is based on available supplies.  Also, appointments can only be made by through the 334-528-SICK hotline. Click the link below for more information on how that works. 
  • For more information about when to seek screening, go here.

COVID-19 Results

When someone has a specimen collected to be tested for COVID-19, it may take up to 7 days before the results are provided, but the average return time is 4 days. The patient will receive a call from the EAMC, ADPH and/or an independent lab with their test results. The wait time is due to the amount of tests the labs are receiving nationwide as the pandemic spreads.

Shelter in Place at Home - Now More Than Ever

For weeks, EAMC has encouraged sheltering in place at home as the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19. We have reached out to community leaders, city officials and the media to help share this important message. Unfortunately, there are still groups gathering, children playing in neighborhood parks, dinner parties, bible studies and other similar events. These gatherings are part of our everyday life, and may seem harmless, but continuing to participate in such events will allow COVID-19 to spread further throughout our community and infect the most vulnerable among us. While there is not yet a mandate from the state to shelter in place, EAMC asks area residents to shelter in place at home. That means staying at home with immediate family members only and not leaving your home except for essential activities such as food, medical care, or work. When you do venture out, you should maintain a 6-foot distance from other people, wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each time, and frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces.

Employers should be screening

Businesses that are still able to be open should be screening their employees prior to allowing them to enter.  While every business may not be able to check the temperature of their employees, they can ask them these key questions: 1.) Do you have a cough?  2.) Are you having difficulty breathing? 3.) Do you have muscle aches or body aches?  4.) Do you feel like you have a fever? 5.) Have you traveled anywhere in the past 14 days?  6.) Have you been around anyone who has traveled in the past 14 days?  7.) Does you feel sick in any way?  If they answer yes to any of these symptoms, especially numbers 1-4, you should strongly consider sending them back home and telling them to self-quarantine.    

Also, as a reminder, we cannot test every person who has any of these symptoms just to clear them to go back to work.  Collection kits are limited and must be reserved for patients who meet screening criteria for testing.  People with symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, and/or fever can contact their physician or 334-528-SICK for screening.    

Calls to 334-528-SICK does not guarantee a COVID-19 specimen will be collected and submitted for testing.  Instead, patients will be screened on the phone and if the medical provider on the phone determines a COVID-19 test is warranted, directions will be provided on going to EAMC’s drive-through collection center.

Blood Donations Must Go On
EAMC receives 100 percent of its blood supply from the LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, with the vast majority coming from the blood center on the main EAMC campus (505 E. Thomason Circle, Opelika). The blood supply in America is facing an unprecedented challenge due to COVID-19. Large numbers of blood drives are being cancelled daily and donors are increasingly practicing social distancing, as they should. Hospitals are likely to see critical shortages of blood products occur in the near term if the trajectory does not change. While shortages are not severe today, a critical blood shortage of all blood types will occur if donations simply stop.
If you are healthy and able, we encourage you to call the local LifeSouth office at 334-705-0884 to schedule an appointment.  LifeSouth is limiting the  number of donors in the center at one time so as to keep donors and staff at appropriate distances.  They are doing the same at their blood drive buses.   Below are LifeSouth’s hours of operation:
Monday and Thursday: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Sunday: 12 – 5 p.m.
EAMC Apothecary offering curbside pickup
Beginning Thursday at 8 a.m., EAMC’s Apothecary will be providing curbside pickup of prescriptions outside of The Surgery Center on the back side of the hospital.  A station will be set up there from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily.  Payment for prescriptions will be by credit or debit card only; no cash will be accepted. If someone is picking up a prescription outside of these hours, they will need to call 334-528-2293 to arrange pickup.  The Apothecary is EAMC’s retail pharmacy that is open 24/7.

Meal Donations for EAMC Employees

Over the past two weeks, the Auburn and Opelika Chambers of Commerce, as well as area businesses and individuals in our community, have provided meals to EAMC employees on the frontline of COVID-19 who are working hard to help hospitalized patients recover.  Due to extended work hours and restrictions in place to protect patients and staff, employees are not able to leave their work areas or have easy access to meals. Businesses, organizations and individuals interested in donating funds for staff meals needed during COVID-19 may do so now through the EAMC Foundation. A specific fund has been set up by the Foundation to help with such donations. Here’s the link to where you can donate:

https://eamcfoundation8686.thankyou4caring.org/covid-19-relief

Donations can also be made via check. If you choose to write a check, please make it out to EAMC Foundation and in the "for" section, please put "COVID-19 Fund." Checks can be mailed to EAMC, attn: Dennis Thrasher (2000 Pepperell Parkway, Opelika, AL 36801). 

Opelika City School Information

The Opelika City Schools are committed to ensuring that students are fed a nutritious meal when schools are closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Carver Primary School and Opelika High School will be serving lunch meals Monday-Friday from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. beginning Monday, March 23. The meals will be provided for free to anyone 18 years old or younger regardless of which school they attend. No paperwork is required. Children must be present in order to receive the meal. Please note that the schools will be set up for pick up service only. No meals will be consumed on site. Directional signs will be posted at Carver Primary and Opelika High School.

Resources

For any questions or guidance regarding Coronavirus COVID-19 please refer to the CDC website (travel warnings) for the most updated information https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.

The Alabama Department of Public Health updates can be found at http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/infectiousdiseases/2019-coronavirus.html. For COVID-19 testing sites and hours of operation, call the ADPH 24-hour hotline at 1-888-264-2256

For the most recent information from the Opelika Chamber of Commerce, Covid-19 Resources & Links and List of Restaurants & Shops Open for Pick Up or Delivery

For the most recent information from EAMC, visit https://www.eamc.org/patient-and-guests/coronavirus-covid-19-update.

AO Tourism Information on Restaurants and Businesses: https://www.aotourism.com/page/lovelocal?fbclid=IwAR1xoSrZmJD8OEU9xaEAy6R7WbyW3wvLy7Zp7jhh3B3YSlLyfKs2fWLrZLY

COVID-19-Related Emergency Actions of Alabama State Agencies: http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/legal/orders.html

Department of Labor Unemployment Benefits FAQ: https://www.labor.alabama.gov/Coronavirus%20Unemployment%20Benefits%20FAQ.pdf

Alabama workers who are not able to work due to COVID-19 will be eligible to file for unemployment benefits: https://www.labor.alabama.gov/COVID-19%20UC%20Changes%20March%2016%202020%20News%20Release.pdf

Disaster Loan Assistance (Federal Disaster Loans for Businesses, Private Nonprofits, Homeowners, and Renters): https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/

Small Business Administration (SBA) Alabama District Office: https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/al/birmingham

CDC – Coronavirus (COVID-19): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

CDC – What to do if you are sick: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html

CDC – How to Protect Yourself: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html

White House Coronavirus Guidelines for America: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.16.20_coronavirus-guidance_8.5x11_315PM.pdf

FEMA Rumor Control Website: https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus-rumor-control.


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