Gov. Kay Ivey’s office said this morning that the governor and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris are closely monitoring the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state.
“Until our next update, Gov. Ivey continues to reiterate that the threat of this virus is not behind us,” her press secretary, Gina Maiola, said in an emailed response to BirminghamWatch. She said Ivey continues to stress the need for personal responsibility during the pandemic.
“Our health care workers are doing their part. We are seeing businesses make sacrifices, and Gov. Ivey has faith in the people of Alabama to be smart as we wade through this health crisis,” Maiola added.
Alabama is among 21 states that have seen increases in their average daily coronavirus cases this week, according to data compiled by the Washington Post. Alabama, Oregon and South Carolina are among the states with the biggest increases.
Alabama reported a 92% increase in its seven-day average; Oregon was up 83.8% and South Carolina, 60.3%, according to the Post data. Read more.
A coalition of community groups, in partnership with the city of Birmingham, has set up the Birmingham Business Relief Fund to give grants to small businesses affected by protestors’ vandalism Sunday night. “Many businesses were already suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and these funds will assist businesses as they rebuild, repair and renew their operations,” Ivan Holloway, executive director at Urban Impact, said in a statement announcing the program. Read more.
Alabama’s unemployment rate hit 12.9% in April, the Department of Labor announced Friday.
April’s rate is the first full monthly measure that incorporates the true extent of the job losses occurring due to the coronavirus pandemic. March’s unemployment rate was 3.0%.
Gov. Kay Ivey has once again loosened restrictions on Alabama businesses, allowing the reopening of entertainment venues, child care facilities, student activities and educational institutions. Ivey’s “Amended Safer at Home” order, issued Thursday afternoon, will go into effect Friday at 5 p.m.
At a press conference announcing the order, Ivey cited economic stressors, such as a spike in unemployment, as a reason for easing restrictions.
She added: “You’ve got to have a balance between looking after the people’s health and the economic health. There has to be a balance.”
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell is responding to comments recently made by 5th District Congressman Mo Brooks regarding the organization’s advocacy efforts for trade with China.
During an appearance on the Dale Jackson radio show in Huntsville, Brooks accused farming groups, chambers of commerce, Walmart and other “entities” of siding with China over American interests.
In a letter to Brooks obtained by Alabama Daily News, Parnell took serious issue with the congressman’s comments, calling them “not only unfair” but untrue.
Gov. Kay Ivey gave new orders last week regarding which businesses may reopen after shutting down because of the COVID-19 outbreak. But while some reopened at the stroke of 5 p.m. Thursday, others are slower to get back to businesses, and many had yet to open their doors again as of Monday evening.
The Riverchase Galleria, which is the largest enclosed mall in the state, will remain closed until Tuesday, according to a press statement issued by mall operators. “We anticipate that the Mall’s food-use tenants may continue to operate for carryout and delivery service,” the statement said, adding that the Galleria’s popular Mall Walker Program is suspended for the moment.
The sight of an empty Galleria parking lot has been startling for April Stone, executive director of the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I would come into our office to check mail and so forth, and to look out on the lot in the middle of the day — it was like Christmas Day with no one open,” she said.
Meanwhile, professional organizations such as law or accounting firms, as well as many government agencies, mostly continue to operate remotely with their staffs working from home. Industrial employers varied in the degree to which they have been able to operate, either due to government directives or greatly decreased orders that made normal operation unprofitable. Read more.
Across Alabama, because of closure orders issued to counter the growing threat of the coronavirus, the retail hearts of cities and towns have been on life support. In the Birmingham area, the 18th Street shopping district in Homewood was a prime example.
But on a bright blue Friday morning, you could detect a heartbeat in Homewood, one that retailers hope will get stronger in the weeks and months to come.
As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the closure orders were lifted in large part for many retail businesses. Those orders had been part of a state-issued Stay-at-Home directive. A new directive, Safer at Home, is now in place and will be until May 15. As a result, shops that sell clothing, home furnishings, gifts and other items in downtown Homewood opened their doors Friday to walk-in traffic for the first time since late March, or even earlier. And while the walk-in traffic was not overwhelming, it was steady – and encouraging.
“All things considered, it’s been a great day,” said Beth Staula, one of the owners of Alabama Goods.
“Some people are still a little bit intimidated and they’re probably still at home hunkered down and less likely to go out shopping,” Staula said near the end of a 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. business day. “But for the people who are less intimidated, they don’t seem to be too worried about it and … everyone seems to be glad to start seeing some normalcy back in their lives.” Read more.
Alabamians filed 331,670 unemployment claims in a four-week period that began in mid-March, the Alabama Department of Labor said Thursday.
During the week of April 12-18, 66,432 initial unemployment claims were made, with 59,527 of those related to loss of work because of the coronavirus, according to ADOL.
Manufacturing jobs accounted for 9,770 of those claims, followed by accommodations and food services with 6,685 and retail trade with 5,540. Health care and social assistance accounted for 5,367 of the claims.
Many currently shuttered businesses in Alabama could reopen over the next few weeks under new recommendations from a task force created by Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth.
Some establishments such as restaurants, hair salons, child care centers and small retail stores would open immediately under the plan, while others such as medical services, casinos, gyms and entertainment venues would need to wait until May 1. The state’s beaches would also open May 1 and youth sports could resume starting May 11, under the plan from the Small Business Emergency Task Force, which was formed by Ainsworth earlier this month.
The recommendations have been sent to Gov. Kay Ivey, who said she would take them into consideration when formulating next steps in Alabama’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. The state remains under a stay-at-home order limiting residents to only essential errands until April 30. Read more.
Now that Alabamians are eating at home more due to the coronavirus and the resulting stay-at-home orders, state farmers are having to shift how they package and process food.
“Restaurants — they buy big packages,” Jimmy Parnell, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation, said. “Most of us, for our family, want a family-sized package. So that has changed the demand significantly. When you’re selling a pound or two at a time versus 100 pounds at a time, it changes that flow of things.”