Shelby County Coroner gives update on COVID-19 deaths

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter

Nearly two months after Alabama began the process of reopening, Shelby County is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 related deaths.

While many businesses and public properties are reopening with safety guidelines such as social distancing and wearing masks, the spread of the virus continues to affect residents, especially those more vulnerable, including older people and those with underlying health issues.

While the Alabama Department of Public Health still has the county at 24 deaths, Shelby County Coroner Lina Evans said that there were 32 confirmed deaths as of Tuesday, July 7, and the outlook for the future is that there will be more.

“Unfortunately we are going to see a rise in deaths,” Evans said. “Even this past weekend we had three COVID-19 related deaths.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health currently estimates that there are 1,357 positive cases in Shelby County, with 6,161 individuals tested. This represents nearly a thousand more cases since May and more than 300 in the last week.

Evans said that around 80 percent of COVID-19 related deaths in Shelby County were in people over the age of 80, the oldest being 94. However, she did express concern as there have been relatively younger deaths recently, including one who was 56 years old.

According to Evans, however, all of the people who have died have had other underlying health issues such as diabetes, heart problems or dementia and a large portion of the deaths have occurred among residents in assisted living facilities.

Evans expressed that the only way to truly slow the spread of the virus and lower the amount of deaths is to strictly follow the guidelines that have been put forth by the CDC and ADPH, and to be considerate of those most at risk.

“It is just social distancing and wearing masks. I’ve said a hundred times or more that I know it’s summer, and we have been cooped up for so long that we want to get out and do things, but we have to be aware of our surroundings and our neighbors,” she said. “It may not affect me or you, but you have other populations that are vulnerable to it.”