Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 Rise to 22, 12 in Jefferson County; Residents Continue Scavenging Supplies

Entire sections of shelves were emptied at the Wal-Mart on Highway 150 Friday night as people made runs for supplies. (Source: Jason Quarles)

UPDATED — Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have risen to 22, 12 of them in Jefferson County. Also Sunday, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control recommended canceling any gathering of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks.

Otherwise, Alabamians through the weekend flocked to stores, clearing out entire sections as they stocked up on supplies they either thought they might need if they were to be confined to their homes or feared they couldn’t get if stores closed or shipping systems fell though.

Even though the shelves for some items are bare, grocers say the supply chain is intact, so don’t be greedy.

Publix and the parent company of Winn-Dixie are asking customers to limit their purchases of some items such as disinfectants, sanitizers and toilet paper, which seemed to be the biggest target of the day.

A spokesman for Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Winn-Dixie, said the company also has seen increased demand for facial tissue as well as personal cleaning, first aid and respiratory care products.

Publix also has discontinued its in-store demonstrations and food sampling until further notice, spokeswoman Maria Brous said. The store also has begun closing its stores at 8 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.

“This will give our store teams time to conduct additional preventative sanitation and restock shelves,” a store memo stated. Wal-Mart also followed that pattern and is closing its doors for a time to allow for cleaning. Its stores will be open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

COVID-19 Developments

The situation with COVID-19 is developing outside of the stores, too. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported Sunday evening that confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state had risen to 22, 12 in Jefferson County; three in Tuscaloosa County; two in Shelby County; and one each in Baldwin, Elmore, Lee, Limestone and Montgomery counties.

The state health officer said the Alabama Department of Public Health had set up a call center for people who are concerned about whether they need to be tested for coronavirus and how they could go about it. The number is 888-264-2256.

Multiple school systems across the state announced they would close as of Monday, earlier than the state-mandated closing at the end of classes Wednesday. Those included Birmingham, Homewood, Hoover, Bessemer, Vestavia Hills, Jefferson County, Tarrant and Midfield. Mountain Brook schools technically are open, but plans will be firmed up to offer students distance learning the first half of the week.

Although Birmingham schools will be closed, the system announced it will offer meals to students at all schools at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. starting Monday. Other school systems were making similar plans. Check their Facebook pages and websites to keep up with their plans.

Alabama nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as some Veterans Homes, went into lockdown Saturday in an attempt to protect the most vulnerable to the ravages of the disease.

Several area cities also have announced the closing or partial closing of municipal facilities such as libraries and courts. Even more government and community leaders have said they are debating whether events should be canceled and offices or venues closed, so that situation will develop in coming days.