Gov. Kay Ivey said this morning that she has no plans to reopen the state’s economy until testing for the coronavirus has increased.Ivey also said her shelter-in-place order will remain in effect until the end of April.“At this point I plan to base all decisions on data, not desire. Testing is still a challenge. We can’t really reopen the economy until testing needs are met,” she said.Ivey said UAB has added to the testing capacity of the Alabama Department of Public Health and private companies.State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris told the press conference that as of today there have been 167 deaths in the state and more than 5,100 coronavirus cases.“Dawn is breaking soon, ” Harris said, “but we have got to remember a little bit longer that social distancing protects the most vulnerable in our state.”In the last five to six days, Harris said the daily number of new cases of coronavirus in the state has been declining. Another piece of good news, he said, is that hospitals across the state can handle the numbers of patients they are treating.He and Ivey agreed that the situation will look up when the number of cases in Alabama has begun to decline consistently over 10 to 14 days.The governor urged Alabamians to continue social distancing and personal hygiene, and to stay at home.On another matter, Ivey said the state has filled about 40 percent of the unemployment claims filed. As of last week, more than 264,000 Alabamians had filed for unemployment.Ivey has asked several state task forces that she has appointed to report to her by late this week.One of those groups, led by Lt. Gov Will Ainsworth, recommended last week that establishments such as restaurants, hair salons, child care centers and small retail stores be allowed to open immediately, while others such as gyms and entertainment venues need to wait until May 1. It called for opening of Alabama’s beaches by May 1.The state also is taking suggestions and recommendations to the coronavirus task force that the governor appointed last month.
Ivey said she’s created a six-member coronavirus executive committee, led by Harris, and has asked Alabama’s seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives to report their recommendations to her before Wednesday. She said the state is looking at challenges on a district-by-district basis in Alabama.
On or before April 28, Ivey said, she and Harris will review recommendations and have a new plan before the stay-at-home order expires on April 30.