• 50°

State’s COVID-19 restrictions continue

In Franklin County, coronavirus cases have climbed to 843 and deaths tally 13, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Statewide, cases total 37,536 – more than 10,000 of those confirmed in the past two weeks alone – with deaths at 926. National figures report 2.6 million cases with 128,000 deaths.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that the state of Alabama will extend its Safer at Home order, set to expire July 3, through July 31.

Ivey on Tuesday issued an amended Safer at Home Order to be applied statewide. The current order, which took effect May 22, has been extended to expire July 31 at 5 p.m.

“In just a couple of weeks it will mark the four-month period that our state has responded to COVID-19, and I am fully aware of the physical, mental and emotional pain this has caused our people,” said Ivey, calling this an “unprecedented year.”

Ivey pointed out the continuing stay-at-home/safer-at-home order by the state, which has evolved in its reach since first implemented in April, was designed to “get our arms around the situation as much as possible,” stopping the spread of the virus by closing schools, programs, restaurants other businesses and more.

“It also, unfortunately, created a very difficult situation for many of our state’s businesses, both large and small,” Ivey said.

While acknowledging that Alabama coronavirus cases are continuing to mount, Ivey also emphasized the importance of getting people back to work and keeping the state’s economy on track as critical elements of the safer-at-home mentality. She, as well as state health officer Scott Harris, urged personal responsibility in limiting the transmission of COVID-19.

“We are still in the thick of this virus, this disease, and it is deadly,” Ivey said. She urged people to take the measures required to avoid returning to a stricter shutdown status – namely, staying at home when possible, practicing personal hygiene, continuing social distancing and, “for goodness’ sake,” wearing a mask in public.

“Living with COVID-19 has become our new normal, and we should expect to live with it as long as it takes – until the cases start to decline or our medical experts find a vaccine,” Ivey said. “If we continue going in the wrong direction, and our hospitals cannot handle the capacity, then we’re going to reserve the right to come back and reverse course.”

With the amended order in place, citizens will continue to see the following restrictions, among others:

  • entertainment venues, athletic activities, educational and childcare facilities and summer camps are permitted to operate with social distancing and sanitation guidelines in place
  • individuals are encouraged to stay home and follow good sanitation practices
  • retail stores may open at 50 percent capacity, with social distancing and sanitation guidelines in place
  • senior centers’ programming remains suspended, except meal pickup or delivery
  • hospitals and nursing homes must continue to restrict visitation
  • non-work gatherings should observe 6 feet of distance between people not from the same household
  • restaurants must limit seating, keep six feet between tables and have sanitation guidelines in place

“Please continue to take this seriously,” added Harris. “This is not the time to let our guard down.”

The warning message is one being echoed by Franklin County officials, particularly as the Fourth of July holiday approaches. The Franklin County Commission released a statement urging citizens to celebrate responsibly.

As you know, COVID-19 numbers are continuing to climb in Franklin County. We want to encourage all Franklin County citizens who are celebrating in the coming days to follow the Alabama Department of Public Health and CDC guidelines,” the commissioners’ statement reads. “Please continue social distancing, frequent hand washing and using face coverings. If you or anyone in your family has been in contact with someone who has been sick, try to limit contact with others.

“If you begin to feel ill or have other COVID-19 symptoms, we encourage you to contact your primary care physician.”

Commissioners also noted that with school starting in the next few weeks, “we as county commissioners would like to see a decline in the number of positive cases. If we practice the guidelines to keep the virus from spreading, it will not only benefit the school systems but all county residents.

“We hope everyone will do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Franklin County.”

For full video of the governor’s press conference, visit Governor Kay Ivey on Facebook.