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Unity during uncertainty

There is no doubt that we are living in uncertain times, however, there is also no doubt that Alabama, and our nation as a whole, will get through this. And we’ll do it the same way we got through two world wars, September 11, and countless regional disasters – by coming together – and it starts with leadership.

Republicans and Democrats in the Alabama legislature are united in partnering with Governor Kay Ivey, state agencies, and the federal government in order to stop the coronavirus in its tracks. We’re working diligently to mitigate health risks for Alabamians and offering support for our citizens and our businesses to continue growing our economy.

We are seeing the number of cases in our state continue to rise. Governor Ivey has declared a state of emergency, is encouraging social distancing, and authorized the Alabama National Guard to help with coronavirus-related operations should we need their support.

Those are just some of the steps Alabama has taken to combat the spread of this virus. We’ve also: approved $5 million in supplemental appropriation funds; postponed the primary election runoff until July in order to allow safe voting; extended the state tax filing deadline; closed all public schools; modified the state’s unemployment compensation rules to allow workers to file a claim if, due to coronavirus, they are ill, quarantined, laid off, sent home without pay, or caring for an immediate family member (more information at www.labor.alabama.gov or 866-234-5382).

On the federal level, the Trump administration is suspending foreclosures and evictions until the end of April in order to help those affected by the virus. Additionally, the president declared a national emergency more than a week ago and is reserving the right to use the Defense Production Act that would compel manufacturers to shift production to help fight the virus. So far, that hasn’t been necessary.

The response to this pandemic isn’t only from local, state, and federal officials. I have been amazed and encouraged by Alabama citizens and private businesses stepping up and using their talents to contribute to helping those in need. All over the nation, people are putting their Christmas lights back up to spread cheer. For many, this is a declaration of their faith even in these trying times. For others, it is a literal light amid this figurative darkness.

In Alabama, the Birmingham Zoo is hosting Virtual Zoo Camp at 11:00 A.M. every weekday – which will surely help parents who now find themselves navigating distance learning. An anonymous donor has given the state protective healthcare items like gloves and masks. Churches are hosting services online to allow their congregations to worship safely. The YMCA is delivering meals to students to ensure they’re eating while schools are closed. People are ordering takeout to help local restaurants stay afloat. These are clear signs Alabamans are coming together, galvanized for the fight against coronavirus.

Generations of Alabamians have always answered the call when their country needed them, and this is no different. I strongly encourage everyone to follow the recommendations from Governor Ivey and healthcare experts. We are being asked to stay at home and limit our public interactions to slow the spread of this disease to our most vulnerable neighbors.

No one is fighting this battle harder than our healthcare workers. Every one of them deserves our thanks and our praise. And now, many insurance companies have expanded telehealth coverage so doctors and other healthcare providers can offer services over the phone.

In this time, we must do all we can to help and support our healthcare workers, first responders, and hospital employees, and limit the risk they are exposed to in an overwhelmed hospital. If you’re not feeling well, please contact your physician or call 888-264-2256 and determine next steps and if further testing is necessary. If we stay focused and continue to work together, we will win the victory over this virus.

Alabama Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed is a Republican from Jasper.