Doctors call on public to take action as Montgomery becomes COVID-19 hot zone

Alabama hospitals worried about growing COVID-19 cases

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - As individuals increase their contact outside their homes, it's having a direct impact on what's happening inside the region's hospitals.

A snapshot inside Baptist Health's three hospitals Thursday shows 78 patients are admitted with COVID-19, the highest number to date. The majority are on ventilators. Doctors attribute the increase in positive tests and virus-related hospitalizations, in part, to relaxed health restrictions.

“That has certainly correlated with an increase in coronavirus cases, one thing we know about this virus is that it’s very easily transmissible,” said Dr. Carlos Gadea, M.D.

Doctors Gadea and Ximea Ruiz are rheumatologists and practice at the UAB Multispecialty Clinic at Baptist Medical Center South, where they're seeing impact of the virus daily.

“We did notice over the past week some of the patients had fever and they didn’t even feel the symptoms,” stated Dr. Ximea Ruiz, M.D.

After referring a number of patients for testing at the Coronavirus Clinic, they reached a decision to close the multispecialty clinic for two weeks for a round of deep cleaning and disinfecting.

“As the community started reopening we were on watch for a possible hot zone because of increasing cases,” stated Ruiz. "We decided to be a little more proactive and start the deep cleaning.”

Montgomery's numbers increased so quickly it was cited in a White House watch list. That's why they're pleading with the public to stay home. For those who can't, wear a mask.

“We have to show kindness and respect to our neighbors,” said Gadea. “If you go to a grocery store it’s important to wear a face mask not only to protect yourself but others in case you’re an asymptomatic.”

Hospitalization numbers don't paint a visual picture of the hardship many COVID-19 positive patients are experiencing along with the difficult conditions and long hours logged daily by health care providers. That's why Ruiz and Gadea are pleading with the public to reassess their routines by staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask, and committing to extreme hygiene and sanitation measures.

“We have personally seen the effect of this virus on our community here in the healthcare setting so we want to encourage everybody to be very mindful,” said Gadea.

Many who have the virus don’t show symptoms for days, raising the importance of wearing a mask in public.

“Assume everyone’s infected until we prove otherwise,” Ruiz stated.

The multispecialty clinic will be closed through June 1. Doctors will use telehealth visits to treat patients during this time.

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