Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide order that all restaurants close dine-in services. Bars have been closed across the state and nursing homes across the country are not allowing visitors.
Infectious disease experts recommend that meetings of more than ten people be abolished to fight the spread of the coronavirus. This means that sports venues, theaters, night clubs, museums, Churches, mosques, temples and synagogues are having to close. Even the Birmingham Zoo has been closed, Governor Ivey even closed Alabama’s beaches and the media is putting pressure on the Governor of Florida to do the same. The schools have already all been closed.
California is on full lockdown where citizens are refused the right of free movement, in an attempt to combat the further spread of the novel coronavirus.
Most politicians of both major parties have accepted the new orders as necessary for the public good. Former U.S. Senate candidate and judge Roy Moore, however, strongly disagrees with this policy.
“Businesses are closed, our economy is destroyed and churches are closed by tyrants who pander fear in the place of faith in God and our U.S. Constitution,” Moore said on Twitter.
Businesses are closed, our economy is destroyed and churches are closed by tyrants who pander fear in the place of faith in God and our U S Constitution https://t.co/uNv3CovbA4
— Judge Roy Moore (@RealJudgeMoore) March 19, 2020
Moore quoted President James Madison.
Moore said, “’It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberty.’ James Madison would be shocked to see American liberty swept under the rug of coronavirus!”
A number of people have ignored President Donald Trump and Gov. Kay Ivey’s pleas for people to stay in their homes and limit their movements. Alabama’s beaches were full of people vacationing on the extended spring break until Ivey ended their holiday with orders that the beaches be closed.
Critics argue that the flu kills 20,000 Americans a year; but we continue to go to work and school, attend Church, and eat at restaurants even during the height of the flu season. Public Health officials warn that COVID-19 has the ability to do even more damage than the flu if it were allowed to spread throughout the population unhindered.
The extended spring break was supposed to last until April 6, but Alabama Public Health Officer Scott Harris said on Thursday that this could go on for three or four months.
Fears of the COVID-19 virus and the associated hysteria has led to a nearly 29 percent drop in the stock market in the last four weeks. The S&P 500 peaked at a record 3,386 points on February 19 and closed on March 19 at 2,398. As millions of jobs have been eliminated unemployment is expected to soar.
Roy Moore was twice elected as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore has twice ran for Governor; but failed to secure the Republican nomination. In 2017, Moore was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senator; but was defeated in the special election by Doug Jones (D). More recently, Moore ran for Senate in the Republican primary on March 3. Moore finished in fourth place. He is also the founder and President emeritus of the Foundation for Moral Law.
COVID-19 has already killed 10,048 people, with 1,085 dying just on Thursday.
Alabama coalition pushes for Medicaid expansion amid COVID-19 pandemic
The Washington D.C.-based nonprofit research organization Families USA released a report Monday that shows that in Alabama, job losses during the coronavirus pandemic resulted in 69,000 Alabamians losing health insurance between February and May.
A coalition of Alabama organizations pushing for an expansion of Medicaid in the state says that the expansion should have happened before the COVID-19 pandemic, but is all the more needed now, as thousands of Alabamians have lost health insurance during the crisis.
Jane Adams, Alabama Arise campaign director, said in a statement Wednesday that even before COVID-19 , the state’s failure to expand Medicaid left more than 220,000 adults uninsured. Adams directs Cover Alabama, which is a coalition of more than 90 groups pushing for Medicaid expansion in the state. Arise is a founding member of the coalition.
“Further coverage losses during the recession will bring health and financial suffering for even more families across our state,” Adams said. “More people will go without needed health care. More hospital bills will go unpaid. And all Alabamians will bear the additional strain on our health care system. This report’s findings should be a blaring emergency siren for our state leaders.”
The Washington D.C.-based nonprofit research organization Families USA released a report Monday that shows that in Alabama, job losses during the coronavirus pandemic resulted in 69,000 Alabamians losing health insurance between February and May. Those uninsured adults raised Alabama’s uninsured rate to 19 percent, which is the ninth highest rate in the country, and 3 percentage points higher than in 2018, according to the report.
“As workers and their families lose comprehensive health insurance, their risk of delayed care and complications from the virus increases. So does their risk of financial devastation,” Alabama Arise’s press release states.
Across the country 5.4 million more Americans lost health insurance between February and May, the report notes, which was a 39 percent higher increase in uninsured than any annual increase on record. States with high numbers of uninsured are also seeing more increases in COVID-19 cases, according to the report, which ranks Alabama as having the seven highest rate of new COVID-19 cases among the 15 states with large numbers of uninsured.
“COVID-19 is putting lives, livelihoods and economic security at risk for thousands of Alabama workers. And many communities face long-term challenges for health care capacity and economic recovery,” Adams said. “Alabama Arise and Cover Alabama urge Gov. Kay Ivey to save lives and stabilize our local hospitals by expanding Medicaid. We ask the Legislature to provide the needed state share of this pro-family, pro-health, pro-community investment in our future. And we ask Congress to strengthen Medicaid funding and help Alabama shore up our health care infrastructure.”
Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, told reporters during a press conference Tuesday that expanding Medicaid “is critically important.”
“We see clear data now that infant mortality rates are lowered in states that have expanded Medicaid, because women have better access to prenatal care,” Williamson said. “We see breast cancer diagnosed earlier, hence reducing the death rate due to breast cancer. We see diabetes being diagnosed earlier. We just see a general improvement in life expectancy and health outcomes associated with people having access to health care.”
In states that have expanded Medicaid there’s evidence that peoples’ credit scores improve, bankruptcies decline and jobs are created, Williamson said.
“It seems to us like the right thing to do for our citizens, and it seems the right thing to do for the state, and that was all before COVID,” Williamson said. “And COVID has simply highlighted that there are thousands of people now who end up coming to hospitals and not having insurance.”
U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, who hosted Williamson in the Tuesday press conference, has been a longtime proponent of expanding Medicaid in Alabama, and said he continues to work to try and get incentives approved to help reduce the cost to Alabama and other states for an expansion of the program.
“Going into this pandemic we had over 300,000 Alabamians it would have benefited,” Jones said of a Medicaid expansion. “Today, it’s probably closer to 500,000.”
White House task force member worried about the South, meets with Gov. Kay Ivey
Birx emphasized “very strongly” that this is a critical time for the South to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, according to the governor’s office.
A member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force is worried about the South and visited with Gov. Kay Ivey and others in Montgomery on Wednesday to discuss the growing problem.
Ivey hosted Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, at the Governor’s Mansion, where the two held a round table discussion along with State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, other state health individuals, business and religious leaders and other lawmakers, according to a press release from Ivey’s office.
Members of the press were not permitted to attend.
“Dr. Birx emphasized very strongly that this is a critical time for the South to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and that the governor’s decision to issue a statewide mask order was ‘brilliant’ and critical to keeping our businesses open and running safely,” Ivey’s office said in the release.
Those at the round table discussed testing, the approved COVID-19 treatment drug Remdesivir and how to safely reopen schools and churches, according to the press release.
“Dr. Birx explained that early on, the virus seemed to be concentrated in large cities in the Northeast, however, this has not proven to be accurate in the South. She expressed how the South, specifically Alabama, has high rates statewide,” the release states.
“Dr. Birx told the governor that she was personally worried about the South, which is why she visited our state in person. Governor Ivey is appreciative for her time and knowledge and looks forward to keeping an open dialogue with her and the Trump Administration as we work through the pandemic,” the release continues.
The meeting at the Governor’s Mansion came on a day when Alabama saw a record single-day increase in the number of COVID-19 deaths. Coronavirus hospitalizations are expected to rise again Wednesday as well, after more than a week of record-breaking daily hospitalizations.
Ivey earlier on Wednesday announced a statewide mask order to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Alabama suffers another record one-day death toll as 47 more die
The addition of 47 more deaths to the state’s COVID-19 death toll Wednesday broke the previous single-day high of 40 set on Tuesday.
At least 47 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the last 24 hours, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the largest increase to the state’s COVID-19 death toll in a single day — just a day after the increasing death toll set its previous one-day record Tuesday. Meanwhile, coronavirus hospitalizations are expected to rise again Wednesday after more than a week of record-breaking daily hospitalizations.
The addition of 47 more deaths to the state’s COVID-19 death toll Wednesday broke the previous single-day high of 40 set on Tuesday. The seven-day average of COVID-19 deaths per day was at 22 on Wednesday, which is also a record high. In the last week there have been 151 reported deaths, and in the last two weeks there have been 236 — both are record-high figures.
Nearly 20 percent of the state’s total COVID-19 death toll of 1,183 has been reported in the last two weeks.
While deaths had largely plateaued since early May, the death toll now appears to be surging, weeks after the state began to see rising case counts and hospitalizations. Death from COVID-19 typically occurs weeks after onset of symptoms, and public health experts worry that deaths will eventually rise even higher along a similar trajectory as that of cases, which began to rise several weeks ago.
It may take even longer for deaths to be reported in statewide data. Because deaths most often come weeks after infection — and because death data is even more delayed — the true toll from the state’s current surge in cases may not be seen for several more weeks.
Daily hospitalization numbers for COVID-19 patients statewide for the last ten days have been over 1,000. On Tuesday there were 1,353 coronavirus hospitalizations, the highest it’s been since the start of the pandemic. State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, a press conference Wednesday, said more than 2,000 people across the state are currently hospitalized for confirmed or suspected coronavirus — and about 30 hospitals statewide have very limited intensive care bed availability.
At least 1,477 are hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 Wednesday morning, he said, while 541 are under investigation. The Alabama Department of Public Health has not released today’s figures on its data dashboard yet.
On July 1, the state’s seven-day average of daily COVID-19 hospitalizations was at 711 and was 1,199 on Tuesday, a 68 percent increase in just two weeks.
“There’s nothing inherent in the virus that means it’s going to stop circulating,” said Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, speaking at a press conference Tuesday. “If we find ourselves, then, in August, in September, with rapid transmission of the virus, we have flu season that has started as early as October in Alabama.”
Williamson said the combination of influenza, which regularly fills state hospitals, coupled with COVID-19 is the “scenario where I become extremely concerned about system wide capacity.”
“There are about 30 hospitals in the state that have very little or no ICU capacity at all,” Harris said Wednesday.
The state on Wednesday saw 1,784 new coronavirus cases, which was the third highest single-day increase of cases since the start of the pandemic. The other two record-high single days were set within the last week.
Both the seven-day and 14-day rolling averages of new daily cases were also at record highs Wednesday.
The surge of new cases doesn’t come down to increases in testing, however.
The statewide positivity rate over the last week — the percentage of all tests that are positive — was 16.29 percent on Wednesday, another record high, when taking into account incomplete testing data from ADPH in early April that inflated the percentages at the time.
Public health experts believe the percentage of tests that are positive should be at or below 5 percent or there’s not enough testing being done and cases are going undetected.
Harris said during Gov. Kay Ivey’s press conference Wednesday announcing her statewide face mask ordinance that the state has added more than 18,000 cases in the last two weeks, and noted the high percentage of tests that are positive.
“So clearly we have more disease circulating in our community,” Harris said.
“An overstep”: Lieutenant governor bemoans governor’s statewide mask order
“Issuing a statewide face mask mandate, however, is an overstep that infringes upon the property rights of business owners and the ability of individuals to make their own health decisions,” Alabama’s lieutenant governor said.
Within minutes of Gov. Kay Ivey’s announcement Wednesday of her decision to issue a statewide face mask order, which goes into effect Thursday at 5 p.m., Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth came out against the measure.
U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, however issued a statement in support of Ivey’s decision, which Jones said was evidence that Ivey was clearly following advice from health care professionals.
New cases, deaths and hospitalizations due to coronavirus have continued to surge in recent weeks, worrying public health experts as the supply of available intensive care beds stateside continues to dwindle.
Ainsworth, who’s battled Ivey on COVID-19 matters several times throughout the pandemic, said in a statement after Ivey’s announcement that he encourages the wearing of masks and social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, but that he’s against a statewide order to do so.
“Issuing a statewide face mask mandate, however, is an overstep that infringes upon the property rights of business owners and the ability of individuals to make their own health decisions,” Ainsworth said. “In addition, it imposes a one-size-fits-all, big government requirement on counties that currently have low to moderate infection rates and little need for such a mandate.”
“Masks should be worn to combat further outbreaks, and while I admire Gov. Ivey’s leadership and her on-going efforts, I also believe a statewide order is the wrong way to go about encouraging their use,” Ainsworth continued.
Jones, however, sees the decision as a necessary step to slow the spread of the deadly virus, which has killed at least 1,183 Alabamians so far.
“Governor Ivey did the right thing today by enacting a statewide mask policy. Unlike her counterparts in other Deep South states, Governor Ivey is clearly following the advice of health care professionals. Many Alabama communities in COVID-19 hotspots have already taken this step, which will help limit the spread of this virus and reduce the strain on our struggling hospitals and health care workers, and it just makes sense to do it on a statewide basis,” Jones said in a statement. “We all want to move past this deadly, disruptive pandemic. By taking the simple steps of wearing a mask and social distancing, we can each do our part to protect lives and livelihoods.”
Ainsworth early on during the pandemic urged a more strong response from the state government, then after Ivey’s series of more restrictive measures, Ainsworth flipped and began pushing for a reopening of the state’s economy despite Alabama not meeting the White House’s recommendations of declining cases for at least two weeks.
Ainsworth on June 23 announced that a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19, and that all his staffers were being tested for the virus.