Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday gave authorization for up to 100 National Guardsmen to be activated if needed in the battle against COVID-19.
“While there is no immediate need for us to deploy our Guard, I have given authorization to Adjutant General Sheryl Gordon to be on standby, should our first responders and health care providers need additional support,” Ivey said in a statement.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state jumped to 106 Friday spread across 20 counties. Almost half of the confirmed cases, 50, are in Jefferson County. Lee County follows with 11 cases, Shelby with 10, Madison County with seven, Elmore County with 6, Tuscaloosa County with four, Montgomery County with three, Mobile County with two and Baldwin County with two. One case each was reported from Calhoun, Chambers, Cullman, Jackson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Limestone, St. Clair, Talladega, Walker and Washington counties.
Also on Friday, Ivey clarified wording in her statewide public health order released Thursday. In a statement, she stressed that the law’s ban on gatherings of 25 people or more does not apply to work-related gatherings. However, the statement said, employers must “take all reasonable steps” to ensure a six-foot distance between people, including employees and customers.
In Jefferson County, a ban applies to gatherings of 10 people or more.
In other updates Friday, state School Superintendent Eric Mackey said he expects that Alabama school students will not have to take standardized assessments this year. These tests are used to grade schools, not students. If the federal government approves the state’s application to waive the tests this year, then Alabama schools would not be subject to the grading process later this year. Schools would retain the grades they received last year.
Mackay also said he did not know whether students would be returning to school as schedule April 6, or if they will be returning this year at all. He said school officials will be watching the situation and discussing it next week.
He did say seniors in line to graduate will be able to do so, even if they are a bit late getting to the finish line.