Alabama COVID-19

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Medical professionals are keeping an eye on the number of cases in the state after the Memorial Day holiday.

Dr. Mike Saag is a professor with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s division of Infectious Disease. He said overall hospitalizations are down, but they are still seeing cases.  

 

Gov. Kay Ivey has vetoed legislation that would delay next school year's requirement to hold back third graders who aren't reading at grade level.

This means that the requirement will be enforced starting at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

Ivey said she believes it is too early to delay it until education officials can review upcoming test scores, despite lawmakers urging delays after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted classrooms.

Doctors discuss concerns about kids' COVID-19 vaccines

May 19, 2021
uab.edu

The list of people who can get a COVID-19 vaccination is expanding.

Gov. Kay Ivey said Alabamians 12 and older now qualify for a shot of the Pfizer vaccine. This announcement came days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine's use on adolescents ages twelve to 15 years old.

Dr. David Kimberlin works for Children’s of Alabama's Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. He said it's critical for children's safety to get this vaccine.  

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Minorities are still being hospitalized and dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than whites.  

The National Institute of Health is sending Community Engagement Alliance groups to support local efforts to get people vaccinated.

Dr. Gary Gibbons is the director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. He said they’re using people already in the communities to help gain the trust of anyone who might be hesitating about getting vaccinated.  

Florists facing challenges after flower shortage caused by COVID-19

May 6, 2021

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and celebrating that special day with mom may have been made worse because of COVID-19. We’re not just talking about vaccinations and social distancing. Another issue is flowers. The coronavirus made 2020 a tough year for the floral industry that traditionally showers mothers with blossoms. And, florists say 2021 could be even worse because of a worldwide flower shortage. COVID-19, labor shortages, floods, hurricanes, and shipping bottlenecks may add up to a different Mother’s Day for many this year.

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Governor Kay Ivey’s “safer apart” plan, currently suggests wearing masks and social distancing, is now set to expire at the end of the month. The asssociated "State of Emergency" will end in July.

State weighs pause in 3rd grade promotion reading test

Apr 29, 2021

 

Alabama lawmakers are considering pausing reading assessments usually required of third graders because of school disruptions caused by COVID-19.

The requirement is set to begin next year to assess students' reading levels before moving onto fourth grade.

The House Education Policy Committee debated the bill by Sen. Rodger Smitherman that would delay the requirement by two years. Chairwoman Terri Collins said the committee will vote next week.

The bill has already been passed by the Alabama Senate. 

COVID-19 hospitalizations up 20% in Alabama in 10 days

Apr 20, 2021
hospital bed
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Alabama hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have increades 20 percent in less than two weeks.

Statistics from the Alabama Department of Public Health show that 362 people were hospitalized for the virus on Monday, up from 301 patients just 10 days earlier.

Officials said they are monitoring the spike but don't think it signifies a trend since more people are getting vaccinated and younger patients tend to recover.

School Districts Deciding on Mask Orders

Apr 9, 2021
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Governor Kay Ivey’s mask mandate ends today. Local school districts now have the choice on whether to make face coverings mandatory. Other guidelines have also been relaxed. The CDC has moved its social distancing guidelines from six feet to three feet in the classroom. More students will attend in-person instruction in closer proximity as a result.  Michael Sibley is the Director of Communications at the Alabama Department of Education. He said school district mask wearing policies will probably reflect the views of their community. 

  

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The Birmingham City Council has approved a citywide mask ordinance that will extend through May 24th.  This goes beyond Governor Kay Ivey’s order which is set to expire on Friday. Crystal Smitherman is on the Birmingham City Council. She said there was some pushback from the small business community. 

“I think that is due in part to instances around the country where people have been very violent and aggressive towards store owners for making them wear a mask.” 

Smitherman ultimately feels that citizens will follow the rules. 

Ivey: Biden request will not change mask mandate end

Mar 30, 2021
Auburn University

 

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is maintaining that the statewide mask mandate end April 9, despite President Joe Biden's request it be extended.

On Monday Biden asked that mask requirements and other restrictions to be upheld out of precaution of a "fourth surge" of COVID-19. 

An Ivey spokeswoman said the state is moving toward personal responsibility over government mandates.

Left Hand Soap Company
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Local businesses in Tuscaloosa and around Alabama were closing about this time last year due to the pandemic.

The decision to reopen has been a tough one for many business owners. Tuscaloosa’s Left Hand Soap Company remains an online-only and pickup business. Their shop has stayed closed to make sure they can keep producing essential products like soap and hand sanitizer.

Soapy Jones owns Left Hand Soap Company. She said some businesses have to reopen earlier than others to stay afloat.

Kay Ivey mask
Associated Press

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is urging people to wear masks in public after the statewide mask mandate expires next month.

On the 22, Ivey said masks remain one of the most important tools for fighting COVID-19.

Her office also released sign designs for businesses to use to request patrons to wear masks.

COVID-19 vaccination eligibility was also expanded in Alabama on the 22.

The expansion adds more than 2 million people to the groups who can get a COVID-19 vaccination in the state.

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The Alabama Department of Public Health says the State’s Black Belt region has the highest percentage of people getting COVID-19 vaccinations. ADPH just released the first county numbers for the percentage of people over age 16 that have received a shot. Alabama Public Radio has been focusing coverage on the disparities related to the coronavirus, both on which communities are being hit particularly hard, and those areas having a hard time getting a COVID-19 vaccination.

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Alabama saw an overnight 50 percent increase in COVID-19 cases earlier this week.

The reason may be over 4,000 backlogged cases dating from October of last year. The cases were reported last Monday.

Dr. Karen Landers is the District Medical Officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health. She said they do not have control over entities reporting their numbers to the department.  

Life after COVID-19

Mar 18, 2021
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An APR News feature

Alabama and the rest of the country have been in the COVID-19 pandemic for a year now.

3 legislators test positive for COVID-19 this week

Mar 18, 2021
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Three Alabama lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

Alabama House of Representatives spokesman Clay Redden said three lawmakers tested positive, but did not disclose the names for privacy reasons.

Legislative staff are regularly tested for the virus and have been taking precautions such as wearing masks, limiting building access and spreading the 105 House members out to two floors. 

Alabama jobless rate at 4.3%, lowest of pandemic

Mar 16, 2021

 

Alabama's unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest point since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

It hit 4.3 percent in January, lower than the rate of 4.7 percent in December.

Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said the drop is encouraging.

Shelby County has the lowest rate at 2.3 percent, and Wilcox County is highest at 12.4 percent.

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Birmingham plans on keeping its mask requirement even after the state mandate expires on April 9.

The Birmingham City Council president William Parker said city officials will push to keep the requirement for face masks in public places after talking with medical experts.

A vote on a city mask ordinance will likely take place on April 6.

Bama Tracker
www.bamatracker.com

 

 

The creator of an Alabama COVID-19 tracking website is waiting to see what the future of his creation will hold once the impact of the pandemic eases.

David Marconnet's site presents publically available data about the virus in easily accessible, understandable charts and graphs.

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The Alabama National Guard will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines in 24 rural counties later this month.

The Guard has two 55-member mobile vaccination teams that can provide 8,000 doses a week starting March 23. The governor's office said members will work with public health and local officials to determine rollout logistics.

Out of Alabama's 4.9 million residents, 15.2 percent have received at least one dose of vaccine.

 

Tuscaloosa City Schools will continue to meet four days a week in person for the rest of the school year.

Superintendent Mike Daria announced Friday that the five-day-a-week schedule will resume next fall for the 2021-22 school year.

Daria said several factors were considered when making the decision including employee vaccinations and the needs of students and educators.

State Health Officer: Please wear masks after April 9

Mar 8, 2021
Dr. Scott Harris
montgomeryadvertiser.com

 

With and end date to the governor's mask mandate in place, officials are recommending that Alabamians continue wearing masks even after the deadline.

State Health Officer Scott Harris said people should keep taking precautions after April 9 when the mandate ends. 

Gov. Kay Ivey announced last Thursday that she would not extend the order after it expires.

Harris said he hopes that on April 10 as many people will be wearing masks as the day before.

 

Gov. Kay Ivey is extending her Safer at Home order. Alabamians will still have to wear their masks until April 9. Ivey said while she is extending the mask order, this will be the last time. 

“After April the 9th, I will not keep the mask order in effect," she said in a press conference. "There is no question that wearing masks has been one of our greatest tools in combating the spread of the virus. That, along with good hygiene and social distancing has helped more people from getting sick, or worse, dying.” 

Trust and transportation may be keeping some Gulf coast residents from a COVID shot

Mar 4, 2021

An APR news feature

Trust and transportation keeping some Gulf coast residents from a COVID-19 shot COVID-19 rates are falling in Alabama and across the country. Still, state health officials are looking at statistics that show only 13 percent of Alabamians have been vaccinated. Healthcare providers remain worried about apparent reluctance to get a coronavirus shot.

House committee advances ban on curbside voting

Mar 3, 2021

 

An Alabama legislative committee has advanced a bill that forbids curbside voting.

The House Constitution and Elections Committee voted on Wednesday to send the bill by Republican Rep. Wes Allen to the House floor.

Health expert: Too soon to ease Alabama mask mandate

Mar 3, 2021
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With the state's mask mandate set to expire on Friday, health officials are voicing their support for an extension.

Dr. Sarah Nafziger at the University of Alabama at Birmingham said in a news briefing Wednesday that she favors extending the mandate. She said easing restrictions before more people are vaccinated could reverse the trend of improving COVID-19 case numbers.

Gov. Kay Ivey has not announced her plans for expiration or extension of the order after other Republican-led states have started to ease restrictions.

Emergency rental assistance program available in Alabama

Mar 3, 2021
Alabama Housing Finance Authority emergency rental assistance
ahfa.com

 

Gov. Kay Ivey has authorized a program to help Alabama residents who are struggling to pay rent during the pandemic.

The Alabama Housing Finance Authority will implement the state's new COVID-19 emergency rental assistance program.

The AHFA starting accepting application from landlords and tenants on Monday.

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A memorial to honor the victims and survivors of COVID-19 was observed by the City of Dothan Monday.  

Mark Sabila is mayor of Dothan. He issued a proclamation declaring March 1 a day to honor pandemic victims at a February City Commission meeting.  

Sabila said the public being overloaded with information has been the main challenge of leading Dothan through the pandemic.  

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The number of new cases of COVID-19 in Alabama is going down drastically and healthcare providers are working to keep the good news in perspective. The medical community thinks a combination of vaccinations, mask wearing, and the end of the holiday surge are reasons for lower case load.

Dr. Thomas Weida practices at University Medical Center in Tuscaloosa. He said even getting a vaccination doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.

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