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The Alabama Department of Public Health has announced four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Limestone County.

ADPH has not released information identifying the patients. Limestone County was among the first to have a confirmed case in Alabama and for a long time stood as home of the sole case in North Alabama.

In the 11 days since, the disease has spread to 26 counties total, including three cases in Lauderdale County, two cases in Morgan County and 21 cases in Madison County.

As of 4:40 p.m. Tuesday, the state had 242 confirmed cases of the disease total, according to the ADPH. No deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the state. ADPH reports it has processed more than 2,300 tests so far.

The News Courier will have more on this story as it becomes available.

Tips for prevention

ADPH offers the following tips for minimizing the spread of COVID-19:

• Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, not your hands;

• Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (i.e., doorknobs, countertops, light switches, handles, tables, toilets, phones, keyboards) with household cleaning spray or wipes, according to label instructions;

• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available, especially after blowing your nose, after coughing or sneezing, after going to the bathroom and before eating or preparing food;

• Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands; and

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

If you develop symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. According to the CDC, most people who get COVID-19 will be able to recover at home. The CDC provides the following tips for those who are recovering and their caregivers:

• Stay home, except to get medical care. Do not go to work, school or public areas;

• Use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members if possible. Clean this room as needed but avoid unnecessary contact with the sick person;

• Avoid sharing personal items, like utensils, food, drinks, towels and bedding;

• If available, provide clean, disposable face masks for the sick person to wear; and

• Seek medical care immediately if emergency warning signs develop, such as persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to wake, bluish lips or face and inability to breathe.

The ADPH further recommends individuals do not visit hospitals or health-care providers unless it is an emergency. Instead, call your health-care provider if planning to visit and let your health-care provider know you are self-monitoring for COVID-19.

Fever and flu clinic

Athens-Limestone Hospital and Waddell Family Medicine are hosting a fever and flu clinic for those with symptoms. The clinic is open to anyone 6 years or older who exhibits "a broad range of upper respiratory illnesses, including influenza, sore throat, strep throat, fevers or potential exposure to COVID-19," according to a press release from the hospital.

The clinic will be open 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 902 W. Washington St., Athens. ALH said patients should bring photo identification, insurance card and cell phone with them to the clinic. Preliminary information will be collected while the patient remains in the car.

Patients will only be tested for COVID-19 if indicated by their exam or ordered by the physician or health-care provider, the release said. ALH advises anyone with severe symptoms or other chronic medical issues, or who is currently on chemotherapy or home oxygen, to contact their primary care physician or go to the ER.

Anyone needing general information about COVID-19 can visit athenslimestonehospital.com or call the ALH hotline at 256-262-6188.

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