2 weeks ago

Ivey further reopens Alabama in latest State Health Order

MONTGOMERY — Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday announced an amended Safer-at-Home Order that will take effect Friday, May 22, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. and expire on Friday, July 3, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.

Ivey made the announcement in a press conference alongside State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

The latest order further relaxes restrictions on the type of establishments and activities allowed to reopen amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Strict social distancing and sanitation requirements continue.

You can read the order here and you can view an infographic on the latest changes here.

Additionally, Ivey issued a new supplemental state of emergency detailing that Alabama’s COVID-19 protections against evictions will end on June 1.

This is breaking news and will be updated.

Update 4:53 p.m.:
Ivey’s updated order opened the last of the businesses that were forced to close by the state. Beginning Friday at 5:00 p.m. almost any institution that stays closed due to COVID-19 is doing so of their own volition.

The exceptions are schools and athletic competitions, which open in June.

Governor Ivey on Tuesday remarked that Alabamians need to “live with the new normal of incorporating COVID-19 precautions into our routine.”

Both Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said that even though they were lifting some restrictions, they still believe citizens are safer at home.

The key continuing piece of the State Health Order is that all businesses must keep members of the public six feet from one another, with exceptions for groups that arrived together.

The governor did not relax any of the current behavioral restrictions on what can take place inside already opened businesses. For instance, restaurants and retailers can still only allow 50% of normal capacity on their premises at any one time.

The current rules for hospitals and nursing homes were not changed by the updated health order.

“Our numbers are not as good as we would hope,” said Ivey near the beginning of her remarks about the current COVID-19 caseload in Alabama.

“It is something we’re going to keep a strong eye on in the coming days and weeks,” continued Ivey.

The governor further noted that no COVID-19 patient has lacked for a ventilator and no hospital has been overwhelmed.

“You can’t have a life without a livelihood,” Ivey added later in her remarks.

The types of businesses opened by the governor in her Thursday announcement have strict rules they are required to follow.

Entertainment venues must not allow groups to congregate within six feet of each other and are limited to 50% of normal capacity. All entertainment venue employees must wear masks.

The State of Alabama defines entertainment venues as “bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, theaters, auditoriums, performing centers, tourist attractions (including museums and planetariums), race tracks, commercial or public playgrounds, adult entertainment venues, casinos, and bingo halls.”

“We’re going to continue putting personal responsibility on each and every individual citizen,” Ivey advised, noting that responsibility extended to business owners and faith leaders.

Sports teams are allowed to begin practicing and training together starting Friday at 5:00 p.m.

From May 23 until June 14, teams can practice but may not compete against other teams. Restrictions such as mandatory mask wearing for coaches and a ban on high fives will be in place.

Beginning June 15, teams can compete against each other in their venue of choice, but health precautions remain in place.

“Reopening Alabama only works if we all cooperate,” warned Dr. Harris.

Harris also noted the school openings allowed on June 1 will mostly affect technical programs such as aviation academies and other highly specific institutions. He referred the public to State Superintendent Eric Mackey for plans on how the public school system would reopen in the fall.

Accompanying the openings are new and extensive public health guidelines issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The guidelines do not carry the weight of law, but are strongly suggested as best practices. ADPH consulted with industry groups and the CDC in creating the lists.

Ivey also announced Tuesday a deal struck between the Alabama Department of Public Health and tech companies Apple and Google to create a contact tracing smartphone app.

The app will use Bluetooth technology to let someone know if they have come near someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus and will not communicate any user’s GPS location.

Harris said he expected rotating hotspots of COVID-19 to appear around the state, but maintained confidence that Alabama’s hospital system was equipped to handle such situations.

When asked about the state’s current testing capacity, Ivey responded that she thinks the state “can’t ever do too much testing.” She noted that the percentage of tests coming back positive has decreased.

Dr. Harris appeared unphased when asked about the shortage of ICU beds in Montgomery that Mayor Steven Reed discussed on Wednesday.

“Hospitals frequently have issues like this, and they generally do work those issues out between themselves … transfers to Birmingham from Montgomery are not very unusual,” Harris remarked.

He further noted that ICU capacity can be expanded when needed by reclassifying certain beds and areas of the hospital.

Ivey in the past has said that reopening Alabama would be based on “data not dates.” At the press conference on Thursday she was asked about those comments in relation to Alabama’s slightly increasing number of new daily coronavirus cases.

“Standing by and letting our businesses collapse while we’ve got hundreds of thousands of folks that are hurting and suffering is not an option. So we’ve got to keep our businesses open and keep our people working,” Ivey responded.

“You’ve got to have a balance between looking after the people’s health and also the economic health. There has to be a balance,” she concluded.

See guidelines for various industries below:

Guidelines for Entertainment Venues and Tourist Attractions

Guidelines for Day and Overnight Youth Summer Camps

Guidelines for Child Day Care Facilities

Guidelines for Adult and Youth Athletic Activities

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Fmr Gov. Don Siegelman appears to be using outrage over George Floyd to sell new book

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman to sell his new book is using robocalls that appear to reference the current unrest over George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody.

On Thursday afternoon, a Yellowhammer News reporter received a robocall from 1 (800) 890-5875, a number listed as “Robocaller” by the phone protection company NoMoRobo. The voiceover of the robocall was apparently recorded by Siegelman himself.

The message began, “Don Siegelman, your governor here. We’ve got to protect people from the abuse of power by police, prosecutors, or presidents.”

“My new book, Stealing our Democracy, is a wakeup call to action. It’s also number one among new releases on amazon.com,” the message added.


An individual from the Wiregrass told Yellowhammer News that she also received the voicemail.

In addition to that, at least one Twitter user appeared to have received the robocall.

Siegelman was convicted on June 29, 2006, of conspiracy, bribery and fraud.

The former Alabama Democratic governor appeared to lump in his claimed unjust treatment by the authorities with the death of George Floyd.


Siegelman is currently promoting his new book “Stealing Our Democracy.”

Yellowhammer News’ request for comment from Siegelman was not immediately returned. A message was left on his personal cell phone number.

He claimed the book is “#1 among new releases on amazon.com”

Yellowhammer News examined the new releases chart on Amazon.com, which revealed that Siegelman’s book is not in the top 100 best selling new releases.

However, the book is #1 in the sub-subcategory “Urban, State & Local Government Law.”

Urban, State & Local Government Law is one of 12 sub-subcategories of the “Administrative Law” subcategory.

The “Administrative Law” subcategory is one of 23 subcategories under the category “Law.”

“Law” is one of 36 categories into which Amazon divides the kinds new-release books that it sells.

As a matter of record, the book is only available for pre-order. It has not been released to the public yet.

The former governor’s book claims that his downfall and conviction of felony bribery were part of a politically motivated prosecution coordinated by Karl Rove.

His book will be released to the public on June 16.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

7 hours ago

Two charged with capital murder in slaying of Moody PD officer

Two suspects have been charged with capital murder in the case of slain Moody Police Department officer Stephen Williams.

The two suspects are 27-year-old male Tapero Corlene Johnson and 28-year-old female Marquisha Anissa Tyson. Both are from Birmingham and will be eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

At a press conference Friday, St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray described said the investigation is still continuing and described it as “complex and intense.”


Williams was posthumously promoted to lieutenant at the press conference on Thursday by Moody Police Chief Thomas Hunt.

Hunt said Williams had remarked at times that he would like to achieve the rank of lieutenant someday, and now he will forever be known as Lt. Stephen Williams.

The District Attorney for St. Clair County said the two suspects had been in police custody since the shooting on Tuesday night.

Investigators say they have determined that Johnson and Tyson fired weapons at Williams who was responding to a disturbance at a Super 8 Motel.

A GoFundMe page to help Williams’ family has been raising money in recent days.

Williams served the public as a police officer for 23 years before being killed in the line of duty this week.

Governor Kay Ivey commented on the incident earlier in the week, saying Williams “died a hero.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

8 hours ago

Data shows Alabama nursing homes performing better than national average for COVID-19 cases, deaths

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Thursday released facility-specific COVID-19 data for nursing homes across the United States, and an analysis of the data shows Alabama fairing better than the national average.

The data was collected on a mandatory basis by the CDC and currently covers through the week ending on May 31.

Nationwide, the average number of confirmed coronavirus cases per 1,000 residents in nursing homes was 91.2, while the average number of deaths from the disease per 1,000 residents was 30.2.


In Alabama, both of those numbers were significantly lower than the national average, at 64.9 and 20.9, respectively.

Alabama Nursing Home Association president and CEO Brandon Farmer issued a statement on the data’s release.

“According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Alabama nursing homes report fewer cases of COVID-19 per 1,000 residents and fewer deaths from COVID-19 per 1,000 residents than the national average,” he confirmed.

“Because we are on the front lines of fighting COVID-19, we expect the number of COVID-19 cases to rise as more tests are administered and the data is added to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) system. The Alabama Nursing Home Association hopes this data will be used to prioritize resources for skilled nursing facilities,” Farmer advised.

“Alabama nursing homes have been transparent from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he continued. “Our members have reported cases to their local county health department and the Alabama Department of Public Health from the start. In May, we began reporting cases to the CDC. Facilities also inform residents and their family representatives and employees of cases in their buildings. We are following the guidelines set forth by the multiple state and federal agencies that regulate our sector. No other business or health care provider reports COVID-19 cases to more government entities and people than nursing homes.”

Nationwide, nursing homes reported 95,515 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 31,782 deaths through May 31. Nursing homes in Alabama reported 1,000 confirmed cases and 335 deaths.

Moving forward, CMS will release the next round of data on June 18. After that date, new data should be released weekly.

“The Alabama Nursing Home Association and its members will continue to work with local, state and federal leaders to address the needs of nursing home residents and employees,” Farmer concluded.

The CMS data can be viewed here.

As of Friday at 2:00 p.m., the Alabama Department of Public Health reported 19,073 total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, with 672 deaths.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 hours ago

NFIB survey of Alabama business owners shows ongoing COVID-19 related fears

A new study from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) showed that an overwhelming majority of proprietors are nervous about several aspects of how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting their business.

Yellowhammer News reported in the first week of May that 70% of the NFIB’s membership across the United States was concerned about individuals filing frivolous lawsuits claiming a business had caused them to catch COVID-19.

A poll from the Alabama division of NFIB this week shows that 69% of businesses in the Yellowhammer State remain nervous about lawsuits, and roughly equal amounts are worried whether customers might come back and that it may prove difficult to comply with ongoing regulations.


The top results of the survey as follows:

  • 70% of owners say they’re very or moderately concerned about getting customers back.
  • 69% are concerned about managing the health and safety of their customers; 66% are concerned about managing the health and safety of employees.
  • 69% are concerned with having to comply with new regulations related to the coronavirus.
  • 68% are concerned about finding an adequate supply of supplies such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant.

NFIB state director Rosemary Elebash told Yellowhammer News Friday that the survey was administered to businesses in every county and every city with a significant population.

“It wasn’t just NFIB members,” Elebash added about the survey, saying the group had worked with a number of trade associations to increase the amount of responses.

The NFIB also continues to strongly support Senator Arthur Orr’s (R-Decatur) bill to grant civil immunity from COVID-19 lawsuits to businesses in Alabama.

Elebash noted in a release that Orr’s bill would be “one of NFIB’s top priorities” if Governor Kay Ivey calls a special session later in the year.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

9 hours ago

Tuberville: Nationwide unrest linked to ‘education and jobs’

Many argue there is much more to the civil unrest across the nation than the lone incident in Minneapolis involving the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the police department. Former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville indicated he agrees with that.

During an appearance on Huntsville WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Tuberville, a candidate for U.S. Senate, said based on his interactions with people on the campaign trail, there is a longing to get back to a sense of normalcy in the wake of the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I speak to eight to ten places a day — groups are worried, obviously. I think they’re getting a little more confident they can go out and be around other people,” he said. “And we’re just hoping we can just put this pandemic, and it is a problem, it is serious — again, you’ve got to protect yourself. It’s not going away. It is still here, especially if you’re having health problems and those things. That will go away — but then all of a sudden we get hit with this civil unrest, and again — we’re all Americans. We’re all in this together. We’ve got to find a solution.”


Tuberville said he is asked for his thoughts by voters while on the trail, to which he said he points to “education and jobs,” and the erosion of the American middle class.

“I had a group ask me today, ‘Coach, what do you think the problem is?’ Education and jobs. We don’t have a middle class anymore,” Tuberville stated. “There are people out there that don’t have the opportunity to advance in this country like they want to. This is not a black issue. This is not a white issue. This is an American issue. We shipped our jobs to China, bottom line. We’re finding out more and more about that every day, and we’ve got to give the opportunity for young men and women to have a chance to grow in this country, and give them a fair chance. Unfortunately, our middle class has dissipated. We have more drugs in this country, and a lot of people take other options. We got to understand — we’re all in this together, 340 million people. We’re either going to make it together or not make together.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.