APR's Pat Duggins

An Alabama Public Radio news feature, which is part of APR's effort to address the "news desert" along the state's Gulf coast. APR recruited and trained veteran print journalists in Mobile and Baldwin counties to join our news team to do radio stories from along the Gulf coast.

By now, you've likely heard the advice: If you suspect that you're sick with COVID-19, or live with someone who is showing symptoms of the disease caused by the coronavirus, be prepared to ride it out at home.

President Trump's plan to put a hold on U.S. funding for the World Health Organization during a global pandemic "is as dangerous as it sounds," says billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates. The Microsoft founder joined others defending the WHO, which they say is doing vital work to fight COVID-19.

The coronavirus has plunged the world into a crisis that's being compared to World War II and the Great Depression. It's the worst time possible, Gates and others say, to take money away from the U.N. health agency.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says people to not let their guard down on anti-coronavirus measures and was noncommittal on whether closures would have to extend through May. 

Ivey spoke at a news conference, saying Tuesday that she wants to reopen the state economy as soon as possible. But she suggested that may take a piecemeal approach when it does.

pandemic tornado recovery
Associated Press


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic is complicating relief work after storms killed more than 30 people across the South. 

Baptist volunteers aren’t holding the hands of people whose homes were wrecked by dozens of tornadoes. And the American Red Cross is lining up hotel rooms rather than mass shelters for homeless families to guard against spreading the virus. Mississippi Gov.


Mercedes-Benz donated 30,000 face masks to healthcare and public safety workers in Tuscaloosa County on Thursday. The company’s plant in Vance began producing the masks and face shields to help others combat COVID-19.

Masks will go to Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue, Northstar EMS and the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Tuscaloosa County probate judge Rob Robertson said he is appreciative of the Mercedes-Benz plant's effort to make critical PPE equipment for essential workers.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — More than 450 health care workers in Alabama have been infected with COVID-19 as the total cases in the state neared 3,000. 

The Alabama Department of Public Health said that 464 employees in hospitals and doctors’ offices have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began in Alabama. Infections in health care workers accounted for more than 15% of all cases in the state.  

The cost versus benefit of Medicaid expansion in Alabama

Apr 9, 2020

An APR News Feature --Part of an innovative collaboration between Alabama Public Radio, the commercial newsroom at WVUA23-TV, and the University of Alabama's Center for Public Television.

Alabama lawmakers are looking at short-term and long-term plans on how to keep Alabamians safe as Coronavirus plagues the state. Some now say expanding Medicaid is one option that needs to be considered. 

“I think that it’s time that people really speak up and demand that the state of Alabama invest in people’s healthcare coverage,” Alabama Democratic senator Doug Jones said.

By this time next week, Decatur County, Tenn., will have lost its only hospital, Decatur County General, which has been serving the rural community of about 12,000 people along the Tennessee River since 1963.

The hospital's human resources director, Melinda Hays-Kirkwood, has already begun laying off people, and she says by next week only a skeleton staff will remain.

"It's hard on these employees that have been here a long time. I've got people who have been here for 30 years," Hays-Kirkwood says. "For some people, this has been their only job out of college."


An APR News Feature --Part of an innovative collaboration between Alabama Public Radio, the commercial newsroom at WVUA23-TV, and the University of Alabama's Center for Public Television.

State leaders are doing what they can to keep Alabamians safe as coronavirus cases and deaths climb in Alabama, but some say there’s more lawmakers can be doing right now, like expanding Medicaid.   



MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Health officials' data shows nearly half of the coronavirus deaths in Alabama have been in African Americans even though about a fourth of the state’s population is black. 

Updated at 12:50 p.m.

Auto giant General Motors will build 30,000 medical ventilators for the national stockpile, at a cost of $489.4 million, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.

ADPH releases demographics of first COVID-19 cases

Apr 7, 2020
COVID-19 demographics
Alabama Department of Public Health

The Alabama Department of Public Health released characteristics of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state.

As of April 6 the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 2,000 and the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 reached 39. 

While women account for 55.9% of confirmed cases, me make up the majority of verified deaths at 66.7%.

Individuals 65 years or older make up 59% of those who have died from the virus.

African Americans make up 27% of Alabama's total population, but account for 43.6% of verified deaths.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET, April 20

As COVID-19 surges in places throughout the country, Americans are left to wonder, "When will my state hit its worst point?"



Alabama is reported a significant jump in the number of COVID-19 patients as more testing sites report results. 

The Alabama Department of Public Health Department said Monday that the state has recorded more than 2,000 positive tests for the virus and 53 reported deaths of COVID-19 patients. The state doubled its number of reported cases in less than a week.



As the number of confirmed Coronavirus 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. 


“I think everybody is feeling out of control, experiencing a lot of uncertainty." said Dr. Thaddeus Ulzen, who is the chair of psychiatry and behavioral health at University Medical Center in Tuscaloosa.


What does a statewide 'stay at home' order mean?

Apr 6, 2020
stay home

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced on Friday that she would be issuing a statewide stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The order, which went into effect on Saturday, came after multiple Alabama cities had issued their own shelter-in-place orders or curfews. It also followed a statewide closing of nonessential businesses that was announced the week proir. 

Associated Press


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The state of Alabama is ordering residents to stay home except for essential trips and work starting Saturday. 

The order released Friday by Gov. Kay Ivey allows people to leave home to get medicine, food and other essentials. It also allows church services as long as long fewer than 10 people are present and they stay at least 6 feet apart. Outdoor exercise also is allowed under the order.


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Birmingham has extended its shelter-in-place order through the end of April. reports that the City Council approved the extension unanimously on Friday _ the same day the initial order was set to expire. Residents are urged to travel only for essential purposes such as work, grocery shopping and appointments with doctors.

Medical rationing is not something Americans are accustomed to, but COVID-19 may soon change that.

The specter of rationing is most imminent in New York City, where the virus is spreading rapidly and overwhelming hospitals with patients.

According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state has 2,200 ventilators in its state stockpile. Current COVID-19 case projections suggest the state may not have enough of the machines, which help critically ill people breathe, as soon as next week.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Sen. Doug Jones says he believes the state should issue a statewide stay-home order, as other states have done, to limit the spread of the coronavirus. 

The number of reported deaths in Alabama on Thursday climbed to more than 30.

World Games
Associated Press


The World Games is a showcase for athletes who compete in eclectic array of sports that have one thing in common: They are not part of the regular Olympic program. Now, they'll have to wait an extra year to take part in their Olympic-style competition.

The 2021 World Games has joined the parade of postponed events because of the coronavirus pandemic.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A spokeswoman says Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is not ready to issue a shelter-in-place order, but the state has taken other actions to reduce spread.

Republican governors in Florida, Mississippi and Georgia on Wednesday reversed course and issued stay-home directives after previously resisting such a statewide order. Alabama now has more than 1,100 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said as of Wednesday morning, Alabama had 17 confirmed deaths from COVID-19. The state is investigating additional deaths. 

Updated at 10:38 a.m. ET

The number of new people claiming unemployment benefits totaled a staggering 6.648 million last week — doubling the record set a week earlier, the Labor Department said Thursday.

In the prior week, ending March 21, a revised 3.307 million initial claims were filed.

In just two weeks, nearly all of the jobs gained in the last five years have been lost.

After working for weeks to prepare for the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Mustafa Ahmed is now fighting his own case of COVID-19.

"For me it was just like being hit by a train," he says.

Ahmed is an interventional cardiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a major medical hub for the state. Now, Alabama's largest city is under a shelter-in-place order, as city leaders here have taken a more aggressive approach than the state officials have in order to curtail the spread of the disease.

To stop the spread of the coronavirus, health officials have a favorite refrain: After being in a city or region where there have been a lot of COVID-19 cases, spend 14 days in quarantine even if you feel perfectly fine — don't leave your house. Coming from New York? 14-day quarantine. Arriving in Hawaii?


As reproductive rights activists warn that some patients seeking abortions are being turned away, a federal court has ruled that an order suspending abortions in Texas during the coronavirus pandemic can stand - at least for now.

When the NCAA shut down college sports earlier this month because of the coronavirus outbreak, the most dramatic cancellation was March Madness – the wildly popular men's and women's D1 basketball tournaments. But thousands of athletes in less prominent spring sports — baseball, lacrosse and golf, to name a few — had their seasons end too.

Now, they'll get another chance.

Noah Fortson/NPR

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

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!