MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey held a news conference Tuesday morning to update the public on the state’s response to COVID-19.
The news conference, Ivey’s first on the matter since May 21, focused on her amended Safer at Home order, which is set to expire Friday. She has since extended that order through July 31 with no major changes.
“I am fully aware of the physical, emotional, and mental pain this is causing,” Ivey said. “We’ve lost family and friends to a new and deadly virus.”
But Ivey added she is against shutting down the state’s economy for months saying, “I firmly believe you cannot have a life without a strong livelihood.”
Ivey said the state’s hospitals are not overwhelmed, but explained, “we are still in the thick of this.”
Currently, there are more than 750 people hospitalized around the state with 300 more who are hospitalized but awaiting test results, according to State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.
Dr. Harris also explained that “the percentage of tests that are positive is going up,” and he said even though the state is testing more, there is a greater number of people testing positive. He says this means there is community transmission of the disease.
The Alabama Department of Public Health rolled out a new map Tuesday showing the alert level for each county and it will be based on the number of cases in the last 14 days. Counties that have seen two weeks or more of increases, for example, will be in a red level.
Seniors who are affected by this disease have a one in 10 chance of not surviving, according to Harris. “That is a tragedy,” he stated.
State Rep. Dexter Grimsley, D-Abbeville, thanked thanked front line and essential workers, then spoke of his sister who died of COVID-19. She was just 58. He added that if she were alive today, she would be telling people to protect themselves and wear a mask.
Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon also spoke, saying the hospital in his city almost closed three years ago, but thankfully was saved after a sales tax increase and UAB’s commitment to operating it.
“There’s some things that have happened to our family that I can’t believe anybody would not take this seriously. I just don’t understand,” the mayor said. Both he and his wife have previously tested positive for the disease. And he hasn’t seen his mother, 90, since March because of the pandemic. She’s in a local nursing home but has tested negative.
And McClendon touched on football, a huge sport in the state. While he was adamant that he loves football, he explained “my mother’s life and my wife’s life is more important. Please, please listen to what we’re saying.”
The governor and others who spoke continue to urge residents to social distance and to wear masks with McClendon adding “this is not rocket science.”
“We know face coverings aren’t perfect,” Harris added, “but they limit your chance of getting it.”
“If we continue to go in the wrong direction,” the governor also warned, “we reserve the right to come back and reverse course.”
During her last news conference on May 21, Ivey announced an expanded list of events and businesses that could reopen. On that day, Alabama had tested 171,000 people, had confirmed 13,058 cases, and had 528 confirmed deaths. The numbers have since nearly triple for testing and confirmed cases while deaths have jumped 40 percent.