3 weeks ago

Univ. of Alabama going online-only for rest of spring semester

University of Alabama President Stuart R. Bell provided an update Wednesday on the school’s efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the remainder of the spring semester.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic affects our community and the world, our UA administration has been tirelessly consulting available resources and experts to make decisions that are in the best interests of the health and safety of our campus community,” Bell wrote in an announcement.

“Given the latest directives from federal and state officials, I have signed an Emergency Declaration for The University of Alabama, allowing our officials to take further actions to protect the campus community and limit access to campus premises during this public health crisis,” Bell continued.

“Our semester will be completed under the plan below, posted on our website at healthinfo.ua.edu and updated as additional details become available,” he added. “Please understand the thoughtfulness with which this plan was developed and is now conveyed.”

Under Bell’s leadership, the following plan was released:

Spring 2020 Classes. All remaining classes this semester will be taught remotely. There will be no further person-to-person or on-site instruction. Exceptions will only be made as accreditors or licensors require, and as specifically approved by the Provost. Our faculty are working hard to offer the best alternatives to our students, using the most effective tools available. Faculty, know that the administration supports you in these efforts, and assistance is provided via the Center for Instructional Technology, the Office of Information Technology and the Provost – linked at ua.edu. Students, know that your professors will support you through this transition.

Students Must NOT Return to Campus from Spring Break. Residence halls and Greek residential houses are closed. Recreation facilities are also closed. Dining halls, food courts, libraries and other services will not be readily available. The availability of such services in the community is also greatly limited. Now that on-campus classes will not resume this semester, a plan will be communicated in the near future regarding residential student housing fees and meal plans.

Short-Term Hardships Must Be Compelling and Specifically Approved in Order to Remain in Campus Housing. Students with hardships, such as homeless students or those without the ability to complete classes online from home, must apply for an exception with supporting documentation to Student Life. Short-term and limited arrangements will only be approved, under extenuating and rare circumstances, by an administrative team appointed by the Vice President for Student Life.

Move Out Plan for On-Campus Housing. In order to provide for further social distancing, a staggered plan to retrieve your belongings from the residence halls and Greek houses is being developed and will be communicated at a later date. Students are not authorized to return to campus outside of this plan and any who show up without authorization will not be accommodated. Students needing immediate access to medicines or other critical necessities should call: Residence halls:  205-348-6676, Greek houses:  205-348-2693

Cancellation of Spring Commencement and other Events. Honors week, athletic activities and other events are cancelled for the remainder of the semester.  On-campus Spring Commencement will not be held as scheduled, and families should not plan on traveling to campus for that event. We are actively exploring and hope to provide alternative means of recognizing the significant achievements of graduates and students earning honors, but it is too early to make those plans firm.

Interim/Summer Education Abroad. Interim and summer education abroad classes are cancelled. Further communications to affected faculty, staff, and students will be forthcoming.

Interim/Summer Classes. Given the current guidance, it is possible that online models of instruction will continue for all students through interim and regular summer terms. Registration for those terms may be extended.

Further Information from ADPH. We are working closely with the UA System COVID-19 Task Force, the infectious disease specialists on our sister campuses and the Alabama Department of Public Health on all aspects of virus prevention, testing, notification and treatment. Once the health department receives notification of a positive result, the health department — or an official designee — will contact the person who tested positive and begin determining who around the person might have been exposed. ADPH gathers and provides verified tests, contacts the case, determines the contacts at risk, and notifies individuals of what to do. If an individual is determined to have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed, ADPH will contact that individual directly to discuss next steps.

“I personally believe there is no higher calling than to be an educator, and it is a great joy of my life and of the lives of our many faculty and staff to interact with a rich and active campus life,” Bell concluded. “This year, more than others, we look forward to the later return of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and supporters who make our campus community so special.”

Last week, the University of Alabama System announced Thursday that its three campuses will be transitioning to online cases due to COVID-19.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @RealKyleMorris and Facebook.

8 mins ago

House Majority Ldr Ledbetter: ‘The people in our state are strong — They’re going to come back better than ever’

In recent days, some of the doom and gloom resulting from the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on Alabama has given way to optimism.

Among those with an optimistic disposition regarding the state’s handling of COVID-19 and the state’s economy is Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville).

During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, Ledbetter laid out why he sees the state turning a corner in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

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“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Ledbetter said of a perceived change in trends for the better. “The models indicate that. When you put everything in that they ask for — once you do that, it shows up dropping in numbers. At one time, some of the models were showing us at 5,000 deaths. I think now it has decreased down into the hundreds, and maybe even lower than that. That’s certainly been important for the people in our state. The things we look for — you know the question today was what will see when we start going back to normal?”

“That was one of the things — fewer cases and deaths, and more tests we’ll get out, the better off we’ll be,” he continued. “The curve that everybody’s talked about — hospital capacity, we’re actually in pretty good shape right now, the state of Alabama. We’ve got about 50% of our beds available. Somewhere around 36% of our ICU beds are available. We’ve got about 800 ventilators, which has increased pretty significantly. When we started out, we had 1,333 ventilators in this state, and I think we’re up to some 1,800 ventilators.”

Ledbetter credited many institutions around Alabama for getting the ventilator count up, from nursing school to the veterinarian school at Auburn University, and pointed to an effort to refurbish some ventilators that were in disrepair.

He also credited State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

“I’ve got to give credit to Dr. Harris,” he said. “I think he has done a tremendous job — him and Dr. [Don] Williamson, in my opinion very fortunate to have those two. Dr. Williamson over the hospital association, and of course, Dr. Scott Harris is over [the Alabama Department of Public Health]. Those two have worked in tandem, and I really truly believe they’re one of the main reasons we’re where we are at today and have been hit no harder than what we have been hit.”

The Dekalb County Republican lawmaker insisted the state would rally back to an even better position economically.

“If we can get this behind us, and get our economy growing — you know, our Alabama economy as growing better than it ever has in my lifetime,” he explained. “Unemployment was 2.7%. We had added some 24,000 jobs and $14 billion into the economy. You know, it almost hit a brick wall. We’ll see how it comes out, and listen — the people in our state are strong. They’re going to come back better than ever. I really believe that.”

@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.

42 mins ago

By the numbers – Cases, life and looking forward in Alabama

It has now been 28 days since Gov. Kay Ivey issued an order declaring a state of emergency in Alabama due to the coronavirus outbreak.

For most, it feels much longer ago.

Here is the latest info, by the numbers.

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2,499. That’s the confirmed number of coronavirus cases as of 6:00 a.m. on Thursday. This is a 302 case increase in the last 24 hours but still far below previous projections. Alabama’s numbers remain manageable.

67 reported deaths in the same time period.

314. Those are the total hospitalizations in the state since March 13. Should Alabama’s current trajectory hold, bed space in the state will be a non-issue.

60,000. The total estimated deaths in the United States has been reduced to this number after having been previously projected to be between 100,000 and 250,000.

1,200. That’s the number of masks donated to hospitals and nursing homes by Masks for Marshall County. Volunteer efforts like this are popping up across Alabama as members of the community seek to help those most vulnerable.

Mobile County now has 249 reported cases.

15. That’s the number of employees at Grayson Air Conditioning in Mobile who received  lunch vouchers from company owner Richard Ridge so they could eat out and support local restaurants struggling to do business. Ridge challenged those deemed essential to support other businesses as best as they can.

363 healthcare workers have now developed confirmed cases which is why there have been efforts in communities across the state to offer support and gratitude.

3. The number of hours coronavirus can remain viable in the air.

24. The number of hours coronavirus can remain viable on cardboard such as packages delivered by Amazon.

72. The number of hours coronavirus can remain viable on a plastic surface similar to a bottle of water.

100. That’s the number of birthdays World War II veteran and Mobile resident Henry Waltman was supposed to celebrate at Battleship Park this week. Unfortunately, due to the outbreak, his birthday party had to be canceled. Instead, friends drove by his home and honked their horns.

56.54. This is the percentage of women among the confirmed cases in the Yellowhammer State.

1,000,000 is the amount of dollars the Poarch Band of Creek Indians donated to Atmore Community Hospital. Tribal chair and CEO Stephanie Bryan said, “We are committed to doing everything we can to make sure this great hospital that serves our community has what it needs.”

7. The number of days coronavirus can live on the outside of a surgical mask. A reminder for everyone of the care required even when using extra precautions.

40. That’s the number of years of experience Dr. Richard Myers has working in genetics. Myers is leading the effort at Huntsville’s HudsonAlpha Institute to develop a treatment and a vaccine for coronavirus.

180. For some, this may be the most important number on the list. It’s the number of days until the college football season kicks off on September 5. It’s good to have something to look forward to.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

15 hours ago

OK, it’s time to start talking about opening up Alabama’s economy

The irresponsibility of the media, national public health officials and China has effectively destroyed our economy, individual businesses and American lives.

It is time to look for the exit ramp.

On March 14, Ramsey Archibald, son of John Archibald, was responsible for a completely ridiculous piece of video that rightly scared the heck out of many Alabamians.

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Archibald helped push the message that 2.5 million Alabamians would get the coronavirus, adding, “Let’s be conservative and say 50% get COVID-19.”

But wait, there’s more.

The video also makes the following claims:

  • 500,000 will need to be treated at a hospital.
  • 125,000 will need treatment at an intensive care unit.
  • 25,000 people could die

The Alabama Media Group “data reporter” painted this projection of millions getting sick and 25,000 dead as the best-case scenario.

He — and his publication — got it wrong. Big time.

But it worked. In concert with other lunatics, they declared that Alabama Governor Kay Ivey wanted people to die, or was at least cool with it, if she didn’t declare Alabama to be a “shelter-in-place” state.

After all, they just heard of such a thing and the smart states were doing it, so the dummies in Alabama should do it as well.

I, for my part, saw this for what it was and pointed out that at some point the governor’s office would cave and make the order, so she should just do it.

That’s exactly what happened.

The numbers began to change.

March 14 — 25,000
March 31 — 1,700
April 1 — 7,300+
April 2 — 5,500+
April 5 — 923
April 8 — 634

Now, this other info came from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projections.

Archibald’s info? A CBS News piece and a calculator. The projection went from 25,000 to 634 in less than a month.

The national line moved from 2.2 million to 60,000+ in that same time frame.

But the storyline didn’t reflect that change.

“People will die!” after all.

It won’t change now either.

It’s time to acknowledge that Alabama should be figuring out how to get back open for business.

Here is my suggestion how:

  1. Social distancing continues until August 1
  2. All businesses, outside of bars, restaurants and sporting events, can open on May 1
  3. Bars, restaurants and sporting events can open on May 15 with half occupancy
  4. Everything can fully open up on June 1
  5. Dates can change based on data

Why these dates?

Why not? Archibald based his on less.

The other steps we took were based on incorrect information and a guess.

Nations in Europe are doing similar things, and I thought people wanted us to be like Europe.

Give Alabamians some hope. Let them know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Be optimistic, but safe. Be smart, but understand that people are suffering here.

Jobs and businesses are already lost, unemployment is through the roof. It’s time to show the people of Alabama that there was a reason for that.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

15 hours ago

Yellowhammer connects your business to Alabama consumers

After nine years, our mission remains the same: reflect our state, its people and their values. As the state’s second-largest media outlet, Yellowhammer connects your business to the people of Alabama.

Online, on the radio, podcasts, events and more. What can Yellowhammer do for you?

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15 hours ago

Ainsworth encourages Alabamians to ‘Ring for the Resurrection’ on Easter

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth is asking all Alabamians to join him in a “Ring for the Resurrection” campaign on Easter Sunday. The effort is intended to promote unity at this COVID-19 time of prolonged separation and to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his crucifixion.

Ring for the Resurrection, which was created by Ainsworth, calls for all churches and individuals across the Yellowhammer State to ring a bell at noon on Sunday, April 12, in joint celebration of the holiday.

“Social distancing guidelines require us to remain apart from our extended families, church members, and other individuals on a sacred religious holiday that normally encourages us to gather together,” Ainsworth said in a statement on Wednesday. “But I realized that the simple act of ringing a bell can allow us to remain physically distant while being united in spirit.”

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“My wife, Kendall, our twin boys, Hunter and Hays, and our daughter, Addie, will be among those ringing a bell at noon on Sunday to celebrate the miracle of Easter,” he concluded. “While Gov. Ivey’s stay-at-home order, the public’s health and safety, and simple common sense prevent Christians from gathering in large groups even on the holiest of days, all of us can join together in spirit as we ring a bell to recognize that Christ has risen.”

This comes after Ainsworth earlier this week unveiled a new website designed to provide small business owners with a one-stop online information hub related to the ongoing pandemic.

RELATED: Ivey announces campaign encouraging Alabamians to pray for medical personnel, first responders

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