COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise in Alabama. But despite that fact, state leaders are going forward with a plan to reopen the state. To accomplish a successful recovery Alabamians must have confidence it is safe to be in public and workers must feel sure that returning to their jobs will not lead to them or their families getting sick.
Earlier this week a coalition of 90 organizations in Alabama sent a letter to state leaders with recommendations on how the state could reopen safely with the $1.9 billion the state is getting under the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
Recommendations include ensuring safe workplaces while families have affordable childcare and rent relief, improving educational opportunities, focusing healthcare on the most at risk communities in the state, safely reopening courts, state and local services, protecting the right to vote for all eligible Alabamians and ensuring that incarcerated people are not in danger of contacting the disease by releasing prisoners, expanding reentry services and aggressive COVID-19 testing and contract tracing.
The recommendations recognize that not all Alabamians are impacted equally with the more highly educated being able to work from home and those without college degrees and Black and Latinx communities facing a higher likelihood of unemployment or having to work jobs where COVID-19 infection is a serious risk.
The following is a statement from Shay Farley, interim deputy policy officer for the Southeast for SPLC Action:
“COVID-19 can infect all of us, but the impact of this disease is not being felt equally. As the state reopens we need to make sure our most vulnerable populations, Black and Latinx, the incarcerated population and those that cannot work from home are not needlessly exposed to this terrible virus. Getting the medically frail and people close to finishing their sentences out of prison, and a sincere community investment in testing and contract tracing can make a difference.
“It is our hope that Gov. Kay Ivey and other state leaders will prioritize the welfare of our most vulnerable population and our children as they reopen the state. This crisis is not over, but with empathy and compassion we can do everything possible to prevent the further spread of this disease and make our state a better place to live.”
The letter to state leaders can be read here.