Governor Ivey, ADPH issue statewide health order

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health has updated a statewide health order that includes new drastic measures to stop the thread of the coronavirus.

Effective today, Friday, all non-work related gatherings of 25 persons or more, or non-work related gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are prohibited. Employers shall take all reasonable steps to meet these standards for employees and customers.

“In order to keep Alabama going, we must keep Alabama businesses going to the best of our abilities. I fully support the restrictions of social or recreational gatherings of 25 people or less and strongly encourage individuals to maintain a six-foot distance. However, this order was intended to apply to non-work-related gatherings. However, employers should take all necessary steps to meet these standards for employees and customers.

“Let me be abundantly clear - I have no intention of slowing down our workforce through unnecessary, burdensome regulations. We will only be able to mitigate the risk of the virus through the efforts of our hardworking manufacturers that will produce life-sustaining supplies, our truckers who move these goods down the road, and our valued retailers that will make them available to our citizens.

“My administration has been given clear instructions to do everything possible to ensure the continuity of government while being flexible and responsible to the needs of our state. I ask for the support of my fellow Alabamians as we work through these challenging days together.”

Here is the email her office sent on Thursday:

Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) on Thursday issued a statewide health order to aid in Alabama’s efforts to contain the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Statewide through April 5:

All gatherings of 25 persons or more, or gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are prohibited. This Order shall apply to all gatherings, events or activities that bring 25 or more persons in a single room or single space at the same time.

Any restaurant, bar, brewery or similar establishments shall not permit on-premise consumption of food or drink. Governor Ivey continues to encourage patrons to visit their local eateries for take-out or delivery provided the social distancing protocols include maintaining a consistent six-foot distance between persons are followed.

All beaches will be closed effective today at 5:00 p.m. For clarification, the term “beach” means the sandy shoreline area abutting the Gulf of Mexico, whether privately or publicly owned, including beach access points.

Preschools and childcare centers will be closed effective at close of school or business today. This shall not apply to licensed childcare centers that provide services exclusively to employees with: State and Local Governments, First Responders (including EMS and Fire Services), Law Enforcement, Hospitals, Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities (including Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities), End Stage Renal Disease Treatment Centers, Pharmacies and grocery stores.

Effective immediately, all Hospitals and Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities (including Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities) shall prohibit visitation of all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations such as maternity and end-of-life.

All elective dental and medical procedures shall be delayed, effective immediately.

Governor Kay Ivey: “Despite our best efforts, the threat of the Covid-19 virus continues to spread and, unfortunately, we have not yet reached peak impact. The decision to place regulations upon Alabamians living in Jefferson County and its surrounding counties was an effort to contain the area in which the virus has been prevalent in our state.

“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.

“Closing Alabama beaches is not a simple decision but one that I came to with the consultation of our elected officials along the coast and members of my administration. After many rounds of conversations with local leaders, in which we discussed several options, I have decided to close beach access in any form. Since we do not want to promote social gatherings, keeping the beaches open sends the wrong message to the public. At this moment, the safety and wellbeing of Alabamians is paramount.

“In addition, we rely heavily upon our first responders and critical healthcare workers to help those who are ill, as well as essential state government employees to keep the continuity of government, and many of them struggle with dependent childcare if daycares close. As a result, I have asked the Alabama Department of Human Resources and the Alabama Department of Public Health to explore emergency rulemaking to make critical exemptions to allow for daycare to be provided for these areas of crucial personnel.

“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: “ADPH is working to provide clarifying information in regards to today’s order, particularly the provision on social gatherings and its applicability to employers. Further clarification will be provided on Friday March 20, 2020.”

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris: “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.”

Harris said, “We’re all stressed about getting enough materials to conduct the COVID19 tests, there are shortages nationally, we haven’t had any yet here, but are concerned that could happen. We’re trying to get some leverage for supplying Alabama.”

Harris went on to say they have more testing sites ready to go but don’t have the supplies yet to do that.

Former State Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson says the state of Alabama has 1344 ventilators, on average day about 550 are in use, and we have surge capacity of 800.

Dr. Williamson says they can move those to an affected area, but his concern is what we could look like in two weeks.