WATCH: Gov. Ivey says ‘testing is still a challenge’ as the stay-at-home order remains until April 30


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Gov. Kay Ivey held a joint press conference to provide further updates on Alabama’s efforts to combat COVID-19.

She was joined by the Alabama Department of Public Health, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, State Finance Director Kelly Butler, Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington and Alabama Superintendent of Banking Mike Hill.

During the press conference, Gov. Ivey reminded everyone that the current stay-at-home order remains in effect until April 30. Ivey said that she wants to see more extensive testing done in Alabama as she considers the steps to restarting economic activity.

Governor Ivey stated that she and Alabama Health officials are going through many recommendations for safely opening the economy. She says, “We can do this and we will do this. We have to do it in a smart way.”

Ivey says, “Reopening the economy is not as easy as flipping a switch.” She went on thank Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth for providing the recommendations on a path forward, speaking about the ‘Reopen Alabama Responsibly Phase: I’ report released last week. She says she has heard from many leaders and citizens alike regarding reopening the economy.

Governor Ivey says, “It’s been a challenging month. We’ve lost too many of our loved ones and our way of life has been turned upside down. But better days are ahead.”

Alabama Department of Public Health, State Health Officer, Dr. Scott Harris, said that they have seen numbers improve as people have stayed home and that gives them confidence as they decide what to do next.

Dr. Harris said the White House guidelines on reopening the economy are “excellent.” He says that they are encouraged by the numbers and see fewer cases per day, for the most part, in recent days. He also says they are continuing to acknowledge that this disease is disproportionally affecting African Americans.

Harris says the state has seen a five-six day period so far from the declining trajectory of Coronavirus cases and they will continue to monitor. He says, that the state has reached the period where health officials thought that there would have been a hospital surge and that has been contained in the state’s hospitals and they are happy about that.

Now Finance Director Kelly Butler, who is chairing the task force on re-opening Alabama’s economy, also spoke saying, that they have received numerous recommendations from various groups in Alabama, and they are all being taken into consideration. Butler says that they are mindful of neighboring state’s decisions and he says that Alabama will move forward based on facts and data.

Alabama Department of Labor, Secretary Fitzgerald Washington says 40% of unemployment claims have been paid. He says that he knows that is frustrating with people trying to file claims, but he says they are working to get everyone paid. Washington says that $264 million has been paid in unemployment benefits. He says that he believes ADOL hit a “peak” in filings, and daily applications are trending downwards.

When asked about other southern states reopening the economy, and what will it take for Alabama to do the same, Governor Ivey says, “We will have a definite specific timetable as soon as we can.

Ivey says the committee from the 7 districts in the state is set to meet in Birmingham today.

In regards to testing in the state, Governor Ivey says, “Testing is still a challenge. We need to do a whole lot more to get up to speed.”

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey says the statewide stay-at-home order will remain in effect through April 30 as her coronavirus task force continues to review recommendations to reopen the economy. She says that is based on data, not the desired date.

Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) released a statement applauding Gov. Ivey on the measures she is taking before opening the state again.

“I applaud Governor Ivey for taking a measured approach as she considers proposals to re-open our economy. Everyone wants to get our economy rolling again and I understand the incredible pressure the Governor is facing to rush this process and follow our neighboring states. Her remarks today about the importance of having more testing capacity than we currently have and putting our citizens’ health care needs first are spot-on.  I also appreciate Dr. Harris’ comments acknowledging the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African-Americans in Alabama.

Alabama has come a long way and I firmly believe that Governor Ivey’s stay-at-home order, and the decision by Alabamians to practice social distancing, has saved lives. Even with all the success we’ve seen, we need to be mindful that we are by no means out of the woods yet. We must ensure we can sustain the good progress we have made on the health care crisis, but we can only do so if we have a strong testing regime in place, reduce cases for two consecutive weeks, and continue social distancing practices before we can responsibly and safely re-open our economy for business.  

We still have a long road ahead to get back to normal, both in Alabama and across the country. We all want to get there as soon as possible, but we need to do it in a way that follows the data and the guidance of our public health officials. I understand the hardships our businesses and workers continue to face as we work to tackle the health crisis. In Congress, I am continuing to advocate for additional resources for our workers and small businesses, as well as our health care providers, local governments and farmers. Providing sufficient relief now will help our businesses stay afloat longer and not feel pressure to re-open before it’s safe to do so.”

For more information regarding the coronavirus pandemic, visit the Alabama Department of Public Health website.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the state has 5,117 cases and 144 coronavirus-related deaths. 699 people are currently being hospitalized and treated for the virus statewide and over 48,387 people have been tested so far.

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