Coroner urges residents to remain cautious amid growing number of COVID-19 deaths

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s decision to implement an amended safer-at-home order May 11 marked the next phase of the state’s reopening plan and provided a measure of hope for many business owners and residents.

State and local leaders, however, are still urging residents to continue taking the ongoing threat of the novel coronavirus seriously as the death toll rises.

In Shelby County, the Alabama Department of Public Health reported 370 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 5,551 tests administered and 17 deaths as of the morning of Tuesday, May 12, nearly two months since the outbreak began in Alabama.

Shelby County Coroner Lina Evans said the majority of the county’s deaths have occurred with elderly patients in the 70-99 age bracket who have underlying health conditions, such as dementia and congestive heart failure.

Many of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been nursing home residents, Evans said.

“We still really need to keep nursing homes and hospitals locked down or restricted,” she said. “These are just the vulnerable populations.”

Evans said she believes testing will be especially important in the next few weeks to determine the potential of a resurgence of the virus.

“Anybody that does get sick in the younger population needs to be very quick about being tested,” Evans said. “People still think it (COVID-19) only affects the elderly population. Do not think because you’re 20, 30 or 40 and otherwise healthy that you can’t contract it and that it can’t be detrimental to you.”

In April, the Centers for Disease Control added six new symptoms to its list of indicators of COVID-19, broadening the full list to include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and a new loss of taste or smell.

Evans said the diverse range of symptoms—and, in some cases, the lack of symptoms—COVID-19 patients can exhibit has made the situation even more challenging.

“You know yourself and how you feel,” Evans said. “If you feel anything out of the ordinary, you need to go get checked.”

She also advises everyone to remain vigilant about washing their hands and practicing proper social distancing.

“Don’t be complacent with your hygiene,” Evans said. “Please be very cautious.”