7 Things: Alabama has its first coronavirus death, coronavirus stimulus package passes, Alabama’s hospital availability a concern and more …
7. Lawmakers want to hold China accountable
- U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) have introduced a piece of legislation to demand an investigation into the Chinese response to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the world.
- If passed, the resolution would look into China’s decision to hide details of the disease during the early days of the outbreak. Meanwhile, the United States is holding up a Security Council resolution at the United Nations by demanding they declare China as the origin of the illness.
6. University of South Alabama students are coming home
- A group of students from the University of South Alabama have been stranded in Peru due to the coronavirus outbreak, but U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) has announced that the students are coming back to the states.
- The students were stuck in Peru when borders were closed on March 17, and Byrne said that he’s “thankful to all who worked so hard to ensure this positive outcome.”
5. Republicans want the economy considered
- U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) has come out saying that the economy needs to be considered when coronavirus precautions are taken, saying, “[A]s we look beyond the crisis, we must consider that the economic damage could cripple the country.”
- Aderholt also said that he hopes the timeline of people getting back to work will be “weeks not months.” U.S. Rep Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) agreed in a radio interview that a good economy was only on pause until the spread of the virus is contained, adding that “once we get past this the economy is going to rebound.”
4. Legislative meetings might as well be postponed officially
- Today, the Alabama House of Representatives was supposed to continue its legislative session, but due to the coronavirus outbreak, meetings have been postponed and it’s unclear when things will resume as the Alabama Senate is on spring break until at least March 31.
- Technically, Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon will be there to carry out the meeting, but no business can be conducted without at least 53 members in attendance and everyone has been told to stay home. It’s expected McCutcheon will announce plans for future meetings on Tuesday, and the Senate is expected to make a decision on meetings the same day.
3. Alabama hospitals don’t have a ton of availability
- Alabama Hospital Association CEO and President Don Williams said that during the coronavirus outbreak, “If we’re lucky, hospitals may be slammed but they’ll remain within their capacity.”
- Alabama has 14,790 hospital beds, and usually, 75% of those beds are full on a normal day. Williams said that they “have to prepare for the worst-case scenario and hope that doesn’t happen.”
2. The $2.2 trillion economic stimulus for the coronavirus pandemic passes the Senate
- The bill passed after Republicans called out a “major drafting error” in unemployment benefits in the coronavirus stimulus package, and now U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is saying that he’ll “put a hold on this bill” if Republicans don’t “drop their objections,” but it passed anyway.
- Misgivings on both sides over particular issues were ignored and the 880-page bill passed unanimously. It now moves to the House.
1. Jackson County courthouse employee is Alabama’s first coronavirus death
- A part-time Jackson County courthouse employee who did not have regular contact with the public is Alabama’s first death, but will likely not be the last death with an Alabama connection. None of her coworkers have experienced any symptoms.
- Lt Gov. Will Ainsworth wants to make sure Alabamians are taking the outbreak seriously, saying, “This is a serious situation and is becoming more and more threatening everyday. It WILL spread exponentially in the future and we must slow it down now. Everyone MUST follow the orders given and practice social distancing to protect lives. “