Public Health Emergency Declared By Gov. Ivey In Midst of Flu Epidemic

(WKRG) - "We have a crisis situation going on with the numbers of patients who have been infected with influenza," says Acting State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

The state releasing an update Friday and a warning about the dangerous number of people with the flu. 

"There's nothing out of the ordinary in terms of the type of influenza we're seeing, but we're seeing very large numbers," says Harris.

Hospitals are overrun and it's affecting the way they treat patients. Governor Kay Ivey has issued a proclamation declaring a public health emergency that allows health facilities to implement "alternative standards of care". That allows them to treat larger numbers of patients in a slightly different way than normal.

"So for example, many times patients who have influenza or other illnesses may need to receive IV fluids. But during these alternative standards of care, there may be some cases when medical providers decide that oral hydration or oral fluids would suffice as well."

Seven of the eight health districts in the state have hospitals that are at 90% capacity or greater. If you can get treatment from your doctor over the phone, then do so. They tell people to stay home for at least five to seven days if you're sick to prevent infecting others. And it's not too late to get the flu shot, not just for your sake but others as well.

"Normal, healthy adults who get influenza may do fine but you have to remember there are a lot of vulnerable people out there who may not do well if they become infected," says Harris.

Schools and businesses have been asked to waive their policies for sick notices to prevent a large number of people venturing out to get those notices from healthcare providers.

Officials also asking medical facilities to consider staying open during the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday to help alleviate the burden.

The Alabama Public Health Department is planning to open flu clinics in county health departments starting next week. They are counting up the doses they have available and will open as many as possible.

Mobile County

Baldwin County

Northwest Florida