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Rachael Lee, M.D., Assistant Professor, UAB Department of Infectious Diseases. (Photo: UAB)

Updated: 17:15

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infections in Alabama increased to 517, as of 5:15 p.m. Thursday afternoon. It’s up from 386 the night before.

The state’s second COVID-19 death was also reported on Thursday. Albert Johnson, 78, of Lauderdale County died of the disease according to media reports and social media posts from his family.

There are now confirmed cases in 48 of Alabama’s 67 counties. Jefferson County continues to lead the state in cases, with 159. In Montgomery there are 17 confirmed cases. The number of cases in Autauga County increased to 6 Thursday. Lowndes County has its first reported case as well.

The Alabama Public Health Department has switched to a new case reporting mode, with a graphic that will be updated in real time. Montgomery Advertiser will usually report new case numbers twice a day.

Coronavirus COVID-19 causes influenza and pneumonia-like diseases in the young and relatively healthy, although some experts warn that it is still more dangerous and intense than the average flu for many patients.

But it can be deadly, especially in those over 60 or with existing health conditions, and young people can transmit the virus without even knowing it, says Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings.

COVID (Photo: USA TODAY)

On Thursday, Gov. Kay Ivey announced that schools will remain closed for the rest of the semester and students will end the year at home.

More: Alabama schools remain closed amid the coronavirus pandemic

“This decision has not been taken lightly. It has been made with a tremendous amount of concern and discussion,” she said. “We need to be serious about eliminating the spread of this virus. Public health orders are not suggestions. They have been introduced to save your life.”

On Wednesday, the governor and state health officials confirmed that the state’s first death from the virus occurred in Jackson County, at the far northeast corner of the state. The victim had underlying conditions, health officials said.

More: Alabama’s first coronavirus death is in Jackson County, ADPH and the governor say

Also on Wednesday, the number of reported cases increased by more than 100 between morning and evening. After reporting 283 cases on Wednesday morning, the Alabama Department of Public Health reported 386 cases have been confirmed.

More: Confirmed cases of Alabama coronavirus swell to 386

The UAB hospital announced that COVID-19 cases in the patient had tripled over a 24-hour period, with at least 60 people admitted on Wednesday evening. The majority of patients required ventilator care, although UAB said some patients had recovered.

“I want to be clear in what I say about what this drastic and rapid increase means for our society,” Dr. Sarah Nafziger Tuesday. “This is a dangerous situation that our society must take seriously. Everyone has an important responsibility right now to save lives.”

Alabama doctors and hospital leaders this week told the advertiser that Alabama is not equipped to handle a large influx of cases at once. Social distance and isolation measures must be followed, experts say, to “flatten the curve” or spread the number of infections over a longer period of time. If widespread infections occur too quickly, Alabama will run out of hospital beds and medical equipment.

More: “Absolutely unknown territory”: Alabama hospitals support coronavirus attacks lacks resources

Alabama coronavirus cases by county:

  • Autauga (6)
  • Baldwin (5)
  • Blount (2)
  • Bullock (2)
  • Butler (1)
  • Calhoun (2)
  • Chamber (13)
  • Cherokee (1)
  • Chilton (4)
  • Choctaw (1)
  • Clay (1)
  • Cleburne (1)
  • Colbert (1)
  • Coosa (2)
  • Crenshaw (1)
  • Cullman (6)
  • Dallas (2)
  • DeKalb (1)
  • Elmore (10)
  • Etowah (4)
  • Franklin (3)
  • Houston (3)
  • Jackson (4)
  • Jefferson (159)
  • Lamar (1)
  • Lauderdale (9)
  • Lawrence (3)
  • Lee (47)
  • Limestone (13)
  • Lowndes (1)
  • Madison (43)
  • Marengo (1)
  • Marion (7)
  • Marshall (3)
  • Mobile (18)
  • Montgomery (17)
  • Morgan (9)
  • Pickens (1)
  • Pike (2)
  • Russell (1)
  • St. Clair (6)
  • Shelby (52)
  • Talladega (4)
  • Tallapoosa (4)
  • Tuscaloosa (19)
  • Walker (17)
  • Washington (2)
  • Wilcox (2)

Our Data Central page contains an interactive map that tracks confirmed COVID-19 cases, recoveries and deaths from across the state, nation and world.

The map is updated automatically and shows a close-up of each one [state] county.

Or zoom out to see figures from all over the country and the world.

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Krista Johnson at [email protected].

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