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Coronavirus cases, deaths continue climb

In the week that has passed since the Alabama Department of Public Health announced the state’s first death from the coronavirus, that number has creeped up from one to 13, and the data, information and guidance from officials continues to evolve.

In Franklin County as of Tuesday afternoon, three cases of the virus had been reported. That’s three of 961 cases statewide.

Although the public had already begun voluntary self-isolation and other measures, and previous state orders had encouraged limits on gatherings, Gov. Kay Ivey enforced a stricter set of guidelines beginning this past Saturday at 5 p.m. The March 27 order required the closure of  certain “non-essential” businesses in Alabama.

The order defined affected businesses and activities to include entertainment venues, athletic facilities, close-contact service providers and retail stores. The order is in effect until 5 p.m. April 17, when a determination on extending the order will be made.

A previous order concerning daycare centers is unchanged, and earlier health orders regarding on-premise consumption of food or drink at restaurants and bars remain in effect.

Except for certain situations that are described in the health order, elective dental, medical and surgical procedures are to be postponed until further notice.  

“Everyone plays a critical role in protecting others and is encouraged to spend as much time as possible at home to prevent an increase in new infections,” noted State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

These businesses, venues and activities are now closed to non-employees, statewide:

ENTERTAINMENT VENUES

·        Night clubs

·        Bowling alleys

·        Arcades

·        Concert venues

·        Theaters, auditoriums, and performing arts centers

·        Tourist attractions, including museums and planetariums

·        Racetracks

·        Indoor children’s play areas

·        Adult entertainment venues

·        Casinos

·        Bingo halls

·        Venues operated by social clubs

ATHLETIC FACILITIES AND ACTIVITIES

·        Fitness centers and commercial gyms

·        Spas and public or commercial swimming pools

·        Yoga, barre and spin facilities

·        Spectator sports

·        Sports that involve interaction with another person of closer than 6 feet

·        Activities that require use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment  

·        Activities on commercial or public playground equipment

CLOSE-CONTACT SERVICE PROVIDERS

·        Barber shops  

·        Hair salons  

·        Waxing salons  

·        Threading salons

·        Nail salons and spas

·        Body-art facilities and tattoo services

·        Tanning salons

·        Massage-therapy establishments and massage services

RETAIL STORES

·        Furniture and home-furnishings stores

·        Clothing, shoe and clothing-accessory stores

·        Jewelry, luggage and leather goods stores

·        Department stores

·        Sporting goods stores

·        Book, craft and music stores

According to the ADPH, no non-work gatherings of 10 or more people are permitted, and no non-work gatherings of less than 10 people are permitted unless a consistent 6-foot distance between persons can be maintained.  

Businesses not included on the “non-essential” list are permitted to continue in operation but must take all reasonable steps to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people and to maintain a 6-foot distance between people. 

The ADPH encourages everyone to take precautions, including the following behaviors:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve, not your hands, when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.

Keep informed by visiting alabamapublichealth.gov. An ADPH toll-free hotline and email address for general COVID-19 information are 800-270-7268 and covid19info@adph.state.al.us. In addition, a toll-free phone line provides information about available testing sites and hours of operation statewide at 888-264-2256.

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