Dr. Steven Mark Hayden

Daniel Dye / The Herald

Dr. Steven Mark Hayden said Elmore County and the county will have to be on guard come flu season as he expects more people will be infected with COVID-19.

As new cases continue to be added in double digits nearly every day in Elmore County, a local doctor gave his outlook on what Elmore County can expect related to COVID-19 as time passes.

Dr. Steven Mark Hayden has practiced medicine in Wetumpka since 1990 and offers drive-thru testing for the virus at his facility located at 76297 Tallassee Hwy.

"Most industry experts agree SARS/CoV-2 is likely here for at least the rest of this year or at least until an effective vaccination program comes about," Hayden said.

He recommended people to be vigilant come flu season.

"Come this winter, what will be different is when we have a flu pandemic consisting of fever, chills and cough mixed in with SARS/CoV-2 which is a lot of times is associated with cough and fever," Hayden said. "A lot of people will not know if they have the flu or SARS/CoV-2. It will make it difficult on patients possibly not knowing how sick they are."

He is concerned for patients with underlying conditions.

"Many clinic patients who are older in age, have diabetes or hypertension are at an increased risk of serious life threat complications when they have alveoli infections of SARS/CoV-2," Hayden said. "These people are attending the classic clinics and when they become mixed with patients who have SARS/CoV-2 patients it could make the pandemic much worse and put those patients will multiple risks factors getting life-threatening infections.

To combat the mixing of patients, Hayden thinks people will see a difference in doctors' offices this fall.

"I think common sense will cause the population that has SARS/CoV-2 to be treated in a different area or an entirely different location than other patients," he said. "For example, a clinic that has multiple locations may designate one as the SARS/CoV-2 location."

Hayden said the location of his office has 10,000 square feet and he plans to section out a portion of the building that will be dedicated to treating SARS/CoV-2 patients.

As for what residents of Elmore County can do to negate the spread of COVID-19, Hayden recommended everyone learn as much as possible about the virus.

"Education is your best defense," he said. "You need to be educated on what the initial symptoms are of SARS/CoV-2 ... You also need to weigh if you are exposed to other people who are higher risk."

Hayden's facility offers COVID-19 drive-thru testing 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

For a COVID-19 test, call the Wetumpka Medical Center at 334-544-4353 or the Alabama Department of Public Health at 800-270-7268.

Editor's Note: Look for a more in-depth article in next week's Herald.