Gov. Kay Ivey and Dr. Scott Harris updated the public on an amendment to the state's Safer at Home order during a press conference on Thursday. The updated rules will take effect at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22 and will last through July 3.
“It is now time that we move forward and open our state,” Ivey said. “Just as we’ve learned to live with the flu and other viruses […] it is not realistic to believe we can keep everyone totally isolated.”
Alabama Department of Public Health now has partnerships with both Google and Apple to use their contact tracing app, Ivey said. The app uses Bluetooth to keep track of close contact between people. Alabama is currently one of four states using this program.
All public gatherings are still required to keep six feet between members of different households, but more businesses have been allowed to reopen, per the new amendments. All retail stores, restaurants, athletic facilities, close-contact service providers and beaches can now open.
“Everybody must be a part of social responsibility,” Ivey said. “Having a life also means having a livelihood.”
Performing arts venues and museums can also now open, Ivey said. Sports teams are allowed to practice but are asked not to hold competitions, as they can draw crowds of people.
Childcare facilities no longer have a cap for attendance, but adults must keep social distancing. Children cannot be expected to properly social distance, Ivey said.
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Hospitals and nursing homes still cannot allow outside visitors, Ivey said, since nursing homes are still “hotbeds” for the disease.
“People with medical conditions who are medically fragile are safer at home,” Harris said.
Montgomery hospitals have filled their Intensive Care Unit beds, though hospital beds are still available in other parts of the state, Harris said. The ICU is not only filled with COVID-19 patients, as patients with other conditions also require the ICU.
“Keeping distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands are all ways to … keep everyone safe,” Harris said. “People can have this disease and spread it but not feel sick.”
Alabama currently has over 13,000 cases with 600 hospitalizations, Harris said. Cases have continued to increase at a relatively uniform pace, but the percentage of positive tests is on a decline. Harris wants to be able to test at least 2% of the population per month.
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