Ivey bans gatherings of more than 25, prohibits on-premises food/drink consumption, more
Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday markedly increased the State of Alabama’s efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
In a joint release with the Alabama Department of Public Health, the governor outlined a new Public Health Order:
- All gatherings of more than 25 people, where a distance of six feet can’t be maintained, are banned.
- Nobody in Alabama may eat or drink in the dining room of a restaurant or bar/brewery. Takeout and drive-thru are still permitted.
- All beaches in the state will be closed beginning at 5:00 p.m. Thursday.
- Preschools and child care centers will all close at the end of their regular hours on Thursday
- Visitation at all hospitals and nursing homes is prohibited, “except for certain compassionate care situations such as maternity and end-of-life.”
- All elective dental and medical procedures shall be delayed, effective immediately.
Exceptions will apply for certain daycare facilities that exclusively house the offspring of first responders, medical professionals, state government employees and healthcare workers, among others.
Read the full order here.
It should be noted that the CDC is recommending people not attend gatherings of more than 10 people, which is stricter than Ivey’s order but voluntary.
“We understand that the health orders issued will be a hardship on Alabamians. We must, first and foremost, protect the health and safety of our citizens. This decision has not been made lightly and will help to prevent the spread of this virus,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris in a statement.
“As of this morning, 68 individuals have tested positive for the Coronavirus in Alabama. While I am pleased that many of our citizens are self-regulating and are practicing social distancing, we want to ensure that Alabama is doing our part to flatten the curve,” stated Ivey. “My administration – and all the services of state government – are going to be as flexible as humanly possible to help make your government work for you during the coming days and weeks. I want to the thank the people of our great state for their continued patience and for taking great care of themselves and each other during this pandemic.”
UPDATE 3:10 p.m.
Harris expanded on the Public Health Order at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
All of the measures announced Thursday expire on April 5 at 11:59 p.m., however the governor may before then decide to extend the order past that date.
A state Public Health Order is the equivalent of a new law, per Harris. Breaking part of the order will be met by a punishment equivalent to committing a misdemeanor.
According to Harris, Alabama is now experiencing “community spread,” meaning that most of the new cases confirmed in the last 24 hours did not leave the state at any time in the past few months. They caught their case of COVID-19 from someone else in the community who has it.
If a restaurant or bar does not serve food or manufacturer-sealed alcohol, the Public Health Order in practice means that establishment must close their doors.
According to Harris the limiting factor in rolling out more sites where people can begin the process of being tested is lack of supplies.
Alabama both needs more swabs to collect samples from people, and they need more protective gear that can be worn by people working the screening sites.
The piece of medical equipment frequently needed for treating the most serious cases of COVID-19 is a ventilator.
According to information disseminated at the press conference Alabama has 1344 ventilators, and 550 are currently in use on an average day.
A key goal of the stringent new order is not having the amount of patients requiring a ventilator surpass the number of ventilators available.
Harris said Alabama (and the U.S. at large) is trying to avoid the fate of Italy.
Italy has seen more cases and deaths from COVID-19 per capita than any other country.
UPDATE 5:05 p.m.
Ivey released the following statement:
“I am working with Dr. Harris to bring clarity and provide further information regarding today’s order on social distancing and the impact upon our workforce,” the governor said. “My intent is to keep the Alabama economy moving, and I will do everything to ensure this happens.”
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: email@example.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.