Governor Ivey Discusses Coronavirus Pandemic and Alabama Economy
The state wide stay at home order is in effect until April 30, pending a flattened curve of new infections.
In a one-on-one telephone interview with Alabama News Networks Jerome Jones, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey shed some light on Coronavirus and the efforts her administration is taking to re-open Alabama’s economy and stop the spread of the virus.
Q: Governor Ivey, has it been stressful for you, knowing that there is no easy answer and no state, local, or federal Government leader has had to deal with something like this?
A. ” Certainly these are uncharted waters. There is no playbook to go by, and it is a huge challenge to balance both the safety and health of our people as well as economic well being of our state. Yes it is a very challenging task that we face, but I am blessed to have a tremendous staff surrounding me, and the people of Alabama have responded beautifully to our stay at home order. The good news is the state of Alabama is making progress, and it’s because our people are taking the stay at home order to heart and it’s working.”
Q: When you look at the black belt, and some of the rural Alabama counties where there is limited access to healthcare, what can be done to greater serve those areas?
A. ” We’ve starting having test sites located in the black belt and in multiple counties. The more we test the more cases we find so arrangements are being made to be able to transport patients in the black belt and western counties to area hospitals. We’re taking all precautions because we want all of our people to be able to stay healthy and eventually return to work.
Q: The Legislature is suspended due to the virus, when they reconvene is there anything specific that you will ask of them?
A.”Certainly we have to take up budgets. As bare boned as they may be for the time being, because revenue doesn’t really come in for 2021 until after July 15. The budgets are paramount and I fully expect to call us into special session to address the 2021 budget needs later this summer and fall.”
Q: Football is huge in Alabama, right now our teams would be in spring training but with the current restrictions and trajectory of the virus, what is the status of College Football in the Fall?
A. “We all love football and we all look forward to the season. Right now we need to just keep on doing what we are doing for at least the next couple of weeks to get through this thing then hopefully we can have a good football season, but to speculate on if and when we’re going to start is inappropriate at this time. The people of Alabama are responding, we’re making progress, the curve is being flattened. It’s not as flat as it needs to be, but that’s a good sign for us all. I’m grateful to the people of Alabama for responding so responsibly and staying home if they don’t need to go out, practicing social distancing, and using good hygiene. If we just keep on doing what we’re doing, we’re making progress at the end we’ll be coming sooner than later.”
Q: Models suggest that Alabama will reach the peak sometime near April 22. What is the status of the personal protection equipment (gloves, mask, etc.), that the state has stockpiled, and those that are on order?
A. “PPE’s are short in supply just like all states. Everybody is chasing the same PPE’s, and we’re working hard to keep up with that. Some of our businesses in the state have even started making mask and face shields. We’re doing the best we can, but if people adhere to the guidelines and stay healthy, we won’t need as many PPE’s.”
Q: Where do we have to be as a state, to begin to open our economy and see businesses start to re-open?
A: “The Small Business Commission, Members of the Legislative team, and certainly the Coronavirus Task Force Executive Committee are compiling their reports right now. The legislature is sending me their report on April 22 and the Small Business Commission will send their report on April 17. The executive committee will take all of this and mold it into a well thought out timetable. Then on or before the 28th (of April), Dr. Harris and I along with the medical team will be sure that all of the recommendations are included. It takes time and we are making every effort to figure it out, but people must continue to follow the stay at home order and social distancing guidelines for at least another two weeks. Just be patient, we’re going to get there.”
Q: There have been reports of outbreaks at nursing homes. Are nursing homes facing testing delays, and what’s being done to protect facilities like those against outbreaks?
A. “The nursing home population is absolutely one of the most vulnerable populations we have in Alabama and Brandon Farmer, head of the Alabama Nursing Home Association is doing a very vigilant job in trying to mitigate the spread of the virus in nursing homes. We’re very much concerned about the nursing home population and we’re doing everything we can to try and stop and contain it.”
Q: Have you made in personal appearances during this time to thank First Responders and Healthcare workers who are on the frontlines of the fight against the virus?
A. “I’ve done that remotely and will continue to do so. The name of the game is for people not to have contact with one another.We are very thankful to our healthcare workers and our first responders for doing their job so well.”
Q: Governor Ivey, what is your message to the people of Alabama as we navigate through this pandemic?
A. “I just want to thank our people for being so vigilant and taking the stay at home order to heart. I just ask for their patience because we will get through this. I just ask for their patience because we will get through this, and if we stick to the stay at home order for another couple of weeks, we’ll see even more progress and that’s a very good thing because the more progress we have, the sooner we will be able to get back to work.”