Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth and State Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, will hold a news conference Friday to announce a series of recommended steps for reopening Alabama’s economy, which were formulated at the request of Gov. Kay Ivey.
According to the statement, the COVID-19 infection rate indicates that a downward trend has begun last week. Gov. Ivey asked the Small Business Commission, which is statutorily led by Ainsworth, to submit recommendations for safely reopening businesses, restoring commerce, and recharging Alabama’s economy while, at the same time, protecting the public health.
The recommendations have been drafted by a subcommittee of business leaders and members of the Alabama Legislature.
The “Reopen Alabama Responsibly Phase: I” report has been submitted to the governor, and the full commission has ratified its contents. Rep. Garrett led the subcommittee. As Chair, he reached out to business owners across all industry sectors in order to provide the most comprehensive recommendations possible.
Ivey has said that the economic resumption plan will be weighed alongside the recommendations of State Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and other medical professionals working to ensure that the state’s COVID-19 numbers continue to stabilize and decline.
The Governor expects to join Dr. Harris in issuing a new and updated State Public Health Order “on or before April 28.”
Government officials at both the national and state levels are planning a phased reopening of the economy. The White House has prepared guidelines for the states to implement. Lifting shelter in place orders and allowing shuttered businesses to reopen carries with it the risk of a spike in coronavirus infections. Government planners hope to mitigate the risk through government guidelines.
Economic developer Dr. Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Leaders in the public and private sector are working around the clock to get information out to Alabamians and to help where needed. It is critically important to continue to follow the social distancing guidelines. When you have to go out into public to obtain groceries or other supplies, stay at least six feet away from others, wear gloves, and wear a mask. Always wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.”
Several states that have been less affected by the virus could begin the reopening process within days. Gov. Ivey said on Monday that the state will be studying what happens in these states.
“There has been a lot of talk about a post-pandemic economy and when Alabama will reopen its economy,” Dr. Jones explained. “Because we are in unchartered territory, more assessment is needed to make an informed decision. As our nation begins to understand COVID-19 better, Alabama needs to look at the responses of the states that were hit first and learn from them. Communication is also key. Governor Ivey has continued conversations with leaders and encouraged everyone to submit ideas and methodologies on how to respond to COVID-19. Stay tuned for future information on these practices aimed to best serve Alabamians.”
“Now that we have passed the peak in new cases, we are starting our life again,” Pres. Trump announced on Thursday. “We are starting rejuvenation of our economy again, in a safe and structured and a very responsible fashion.”
The Trump guidelines have three phases.
“We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time,” Pres. Trump explained.
The White House announced, “Thanks to you, President Trump’s aggressive strategy to beat Coronavirus is working.”
According to the administration a quarter of U.S. counties have no Coronavirus cases reported. Half of American states have fewer than 2,500 cases total.
The hardest hit area is New York City where the wide use of mass transit made the population intensely susceptible to virus spread, but even there new infections are declining across the New York metro area, as well as in the closely watched Houston and New Orleans communities.
“While Americans must remain vigilant in following President Trump’s Coronavirus Guidelines, the data suggests we have passed a nationwide peak on new cases,” the White House announced. “This progress means it’s time to help states prepare for how to reopen our country.”
The administration says that the guidance being put out today are in line with what the experts are saying.
The criteria include showing a downward trajectory of COVID-like symptoms reported over 14 days in a given state or region, as well as a decline in documented cases or positive tests during the same 14-day window. A region’s hospital and healthcare system capacity is another factor. According to the President’s guidelines hospitals must be able to treat all patients without crisis care before a state or region can reopen for business. Also a robust testing programs, including emerging antibody testing, must be in place to protect at-risk healthcare workers.
The White House warns that when the economy reopens all Americans must continue social distancing including: continue to practice strict personal hygiene, frequently hand washing, and disinfecting commonly used items and surfaces. People who feel sick should stay home and follow the advice of their medical providers. Employers should follow industry best practices on social distancing, sanitation, travel, and use of shared spaces.
“We want to get our country back,” President Trump said. “And we’re going to do it, and we’re going to do it soon.”
To see President Trump’s Guidelines for Opening Up America again, click here.
22 million Americans have filed unemployment claims in just the last four weeks. To date 677,570 Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19. 34,617 Americans have already died, most of them in just the last three weeks. 57,508 of the infected have recovered and can return from quarantine. 137 Alabamians have already died in the global pandemic.
Original reporting by NBC News contributed to this report.