News

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Watch the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic, including regular White House briefings.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The former co-owner of an Alabama pharmacy has pleaded guilty in what prosecutors describe as a scheme involving improper billing for medication. 

Federal prosecutors say 55-year-old Jeffrey Black of Destin, Florida, pleaded guilty Friday to multiple felony counts. Black is a former co-owner of Northside Pharmacy in Haleyville. The company did business as Global Compounding Pharmacy.

aptv.org / Alabama Public Television

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Public Television says it will be offering more academic programming since the virus outbreak has forced officials to close schools for the rest of the academic year. 

An announcement says the network is modifying the schedule on its main channel starting April 6 to offer more shows for grades kindergarten through 12. And teachers and parents will have access to supplemental lesson plans to help out children.

Individual school districts around the state are separately developing plans for how to teach students while schools are closed.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — As Alabama settles into a statewide stay at home order from the governor, the number of verified coronavirus cases continues to rise.

Heath officials said the number of COVID-19 infections in Alabama was at 783 on Sunday.

The official death count rose to four, but the state still hasn't recorded any fatal cases from Lee County, where Coroner Bill Harris said Saturday that five more people had died at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika.

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Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox has enacted a 24-hour curfew within the city of Tuscaloosa starting Sunday.

Maddox made the announcement in a news conference Thursday at 8 p.m., saying that the COVID-19 situation is rapidly worsening and the only way to help reduce the numbers of people catching the virus is enacting stricter rules.

The curfew, which begins 10 p.m. Sunday and runs through April 11, will close nonessential businesses such as night clubs, gyms, spas, hair salons and retail stores not offering essential services.

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Here’s a list of which types of businesses are affected by the Alabama Department of Public Health’s closure of nonessential businesses from 5 p.m. March 28 to April 17, along with a rundown of businesses still allowed to operate.

Nonessential businesses required to close

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Alabama's total of Coronavirus cases is now at 783, with four deaths. That fourth fatality is in Mobile County, which has thirty nine cases of its own. Another issue connected to the COVID-19 outbreak is the mental health impact. Video of people fighting over toilet paper in supermarkets has made the news lately. Dr. Thaddeus Ulzen is the chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at University Medical Center in Tuscaloosa. He says sheltering at home is leaving people with the feeling that their lives are out of control and the toilet paper fights are a sign of that.

Chance and Lily, Spy Cats [Flickr]

The mental health benefits of having a dog or cat include help with depression, stress, anxiety - not to mention the companionship they provide to ease our loneliness.  Sounds like just the right prescription for a time such as this!

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The State of Alabama is up to an updated 694 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, and three deaths linked to the illness. While the case load increases, the University of Alabama in Birmingham is looking for a few good COVID-19 patients. The school is taking part in a study that may lead to a treatment for Coronavirus. UAB is one of seventy five participants in a test of drug called Remdesivir. Dr. Paul Goepfert is leading the Birmingham research team. He says four hundred test subjects are being sought for a step by step process.

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has signed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law, after swift and near-unanimous action by Congress this week. 

The package will support businesses, rush resources to overburdened health care providers and help struggling families during the deepening coronavirus epidemic.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved a $2.2 trillion rescue package, rushing it to President Donald Trump for his signature. 

The measure tosses a life preserver to a U.S. economy and health care system left flailing by the coronavirus pandemic.  

The House approved the sweeping measure by a voice vote, as strong majorities of both parties lined up behind the most colossal economic relief bill in the nation's history.

 

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) —  Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is ordering the closure of certain businesses, such as non-essential retail stores and entertainment venues, as the state tries to limit the spread of the coronavirus. 

The list of businesses being directed to close in the new statewide health order includes places where people are in close contact, such as gyms, barber shops, theaters, casinos and nail salons. It does not include manufacturing facilities.

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

The House is debating and then voting on the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that the Senate passed earlier this week. Watch the floor proceedings live.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak has risen to three.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is reporting that one person each has died in Lauderdale and Madison counties.

That's in addition to a previously reported death in Jackson County.

All the counties where deaths have occurred are located in north Alabama. Gov. Kay Ivey has shut down schools for the rest of the academic year, limited gatherings and could announce additional measures Friday.

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An APR News feature

A stay-at-home order in Birmingham and a growing number of testing centers were just some of the stories related to the Coronavirus outbreak and Alabama. As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Alabama, state leaders say it’s more important than ever for Alabamians to listen to state and health officials during this unprecedented pandemic.  

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Life will change for residents of Tuscaloosa as of Sunday night. The city of Tuscaloosa has issued a nightly curfew, and shelter-at-home order, that officially begins this weekend. City leaders in Birmingham told residents to stay at home on Wednesday. The order was amended to include staying at home Thursday evening. Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox says if things do not change, there could be some serious problems. “We know, that in late April, without any change in the dynamic, Tuscaloosa County’s healthcare system could be overwhelmed.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has directed public schools to finish the year academic year through distance learning as the state tries to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

Alabama Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey said Thursday that the state is developing plans for how the distance learning would work. The governor said schools will use alternate instruction such as online lessons or take-home packets.

Better Business Bureau warns of Coronavirus scams

Mar 26, 2020
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A warning to be on the lookout as scammers and con artist try to cash in on the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Alabama Securities Commission is advising people not to respond to calls or emails claiming to be from federal or state agency offering COVID-19 related grants, checks or payments.

The ASC says scammers often offer false incentives in exchange for personal financial information.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has passed an unparalleled $2.2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and health care systems engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history.

The unanimous vote Wednesday came despite misgivings on both sides about whether it goes too far or not far enough.

It caps days of difficult negotiations as Washington confronted a national challenge unlike any it has ever faced.

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Updated at 9 p.m.

The Alabama Department of Public Health and Governor Kay Ivey have confirmed Alabama's first COVID-19 related death. 

"We express our deepest sympathy to the family and loved ones of the patient who died, as well as to the families of everyone who has been affected by this outbreak," State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said. "The health of our residents and the community is our greatest priority, and we will continue working together to care for the patients, protect the safety of health care workers, and protect the people in our state."

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Alabama's caseload of Coronavirus patients has grown to 283. Healthcare providers are looking at innovative ways to get patients in touch with their doctors without a face to visit that might spread the illness. Tuscaloosa’s University Medical Center at the University of Alabama is now using the FACETIME video feature on mobile phones for office visits. Dr. Thomas Weida practices family medicine at UMC.

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Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox announced Wednesday that the city will be under a curfew beginning Friday and lasting through April 3.

 

The curfew will last from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and there will be exemptions for those traveling to and from work or other essential tasks.

 

“Within a one-hour drive of city hall, one-third of the state’s coronavirus cases can be found in Jefferson County,” Maddox said. “Within Lee County, which closely mirrors Tuscaloosa County, we see some of the fastest-growing rates of COVID-19 cases in our state.”

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An APR News Feature

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many in Alabama are worried about the economic impact. Those who work in the food or entertainment industries could feel the biggest pinch.

 

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to grow in Alabama. In response, businesses are being ordered to shut their doors, people are being told to stay home and restaurants are only offering deliver or curbside service.

 

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Charitable agencies are looking to help as Alabamians lose income due to the coronavirus pandemic. The United Way is creating a community fund to help those in need.

Drew Langloh is the President and CEO of the United Way of Central Alabama.  He says there is a resource people can use to get in touch with others who can help.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP)-- Thousands of Alabamians are filing for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus pandemic causes workplaces to temporarily close or reduce operations.

The Alabama Department of Labor said nearly 17,000 people filed unemployment claims over two days. Most of the claims were listed as related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Most were from the hospitality industry.

Alabama and other states have mandated closures to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus and avoid overwhelming hospitals.

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Alabama health officials say the State has two hundred and forty two (updated) confirmed cases of Coronavirus. Governor Kay Ivey is asking the Alabama National Guard be ready to be called up on "as needed" basis. This order includes one hundred troops. The Guard would step, Ivey says, if healthcare providers or first responders need support.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey says she has no plans to issue a statewide "shelter in place" order to combat the new Coronavirus, despite a similar action by the City of Birmingham. The city council voted to impose the order until April third. Mayor Randall Woodfin cited an increase of COVID-19 cases in the “Magic City,” rising to 91, for prompting the City’s action.

Alabama Health officials expect Gulf coast COVID caseload to get bigger

Mar 24, 2020
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The Alabama Department of Public Health now says the State has 242 (updated) confirmed cases of Coronavirus. Most are in Jefferson, Madison, and Shelby Counties. However, Alabama health officials expect an increase in the number of Coronavirus cases along the State’s Gulf coast. Mobile County has three testing sites and two confirmed COVID-19 patients. Two more testing are expected for Baldwin County which has three cases. APR’s Gulf Coast reporter Guy Busby spoke with Baldwin County Commission Chair Billie Jo Underwood. She says her community is gearing up to fight the Coronavirus.

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The number of coronavirus cases in Alabama has grows to close to 200 as testing becomes more widespread across the state, but in some places, medical supplies are running low. 

The University of Alabama in Birmingham is dealing with supply issues related to its new appointment based COVD-19 testing service. The system opened March 23. UAB’s’ Dr. Laura Kowalcyzk says concerns over the supplies of protective gear and testing swabs prompted an outpouring of support from the public.

 

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The number of coronavirus cases in Alabama jumped to nearly 200 as health officials urged people to maintain social distancing and the governor extended the deadline for filing state income taxes until mid-summer. 

Alabama on Monday had at least 197 confirmed cases of coronavirus, of which 86 were in Jefferson County.

State Health Officer Scott Harris said getting supplies for testing is a continuing concern. 

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