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Gov. Kay Ivey held a news conference this afternoon to announce a statewide stay-at-home order effective Saturday, April 4 at 5 p.m. aimed at preventing further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Acknowledging that cases continue to rise in the state despite previous health orders that have limited social gathering and “non-essential” business, Ivey said an expected surge in hospitalization is expected to occur in the next two to three weeks, “and those patients are the ones who become infected in the next few days.”
To date, 1,495 cases have been confirmed by the Alabama Department of Public Health, a number that has grown significantly in the last two days. There have been 21 confirmed deaths, but as many as 38 have been reported.
“Some will naturally say, ‘why did you wait so long,’ while others will say ‘why now?’” Ivey said. “I’ve said from the very beginning, when I created my CoronavirusTask Force on March 6 … I wanted Alabamians to be prepared for what at the time was a little-known virus mostly impacting the rest of the world. And whenever possible I wanted the facts, the data and sound science to dictate these decisions. I also tried to find the right balance — something that was measured — while not overreacting, that would look after people’s health while keeping government from choking the life out of business and commerce.”
But in the face of mounting public criticism, including from Lieutenant Gov. Will Ainsworth last week, Ivey said the rise in cases, which have also killed a 33-year-old patient and forced at least 200 infected health care workers to isolate at home, was the final straw.
“We had 160 new positives yesterday and likely a higher number today,” she said. “We need to extend our health orders now. We now have outbreaks in multiple nursing homes, leading to death …. Today I am convinced our previous efforts to limit social interaction and reduce the spread of this virus … have not been enough. And that’s why we’re taking this more drastic step.”
The order is enforceable by law, and advises all residents to stay at home unless they need to:
• Obtain necessary supplies
• Obtain or provide necessary services
• Attend religious services under certain restrictions
• To take care of others
• To work at essential business or operations
• To engage in outdoor activities under certain restrictions
• To seek shelter
• To travel as provided by law or
• To see family members
The full order, with definitions and guidelines, is embedded below.
“April stands to be very tough and potentially very deadly,” Ivey said. “The COVOD-19 pandemic is an imminent threat to our way of life and we are past urging people to stay at home. As of now, it is the law.”
If citizens follow the order and the pandemic is curtailed, she said, it may be possible to resume traditional summer activities and fall football.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said it was “an unprecedented time, with no simple solutions,” but “we need people to stay at home and people are ordered to stay at home.”
“Certainly we understand there are reasons people need to get out … but the default position for everyone is they need to stay at home if at all possible,” he said. “By following these guidelines, you’re protecting the people who work in your community in these essential functions.”
Attorney General Steve Marshall also spoke, noting the order carries “the full weight of our law,” although he said he hoped it would not have to be enforced criminally.
“It provides a means for criminal enforcement of violations of health department rules,” he said. “What we hope for is willful compliance. It’s not a time for over-aggressive law enforcement action, but it’s also not a time for citizens to willingly ignore what is being asked of them.”
Similar to the order issued in the city of Mobile by Mayor Sandy Stimpson just hours earlier, Ivey’s statewide order shall remain in effect until 5 p.m. on April 30, unless a separate decision is made to extend or relax it.
Note: the document embedded below is 11 pages. Use the navigation tool within to see each page.Final-Statewide-Order-4.3.2020
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