Apr 3, 2020
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey COVID-19 Briefing April 3: Stay-at-Home Order Issued
Kay Ivey: (02:29)
I want to get straight to the point. Effective tomorrow afternoon at 5:00 PM, I am mandating a stay at home order for the entire state. Now, some will naturally say, “Well why did you wait so long?” And others will say, “Why now?”. I’ve said it since the very of this thing when I created my coronavirus task force back on March the sixth, that was a full week before the first case in Alabama was reported, that 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 and the data and sound sounds to dictate these decisions. I’ve also tried to find the right balance, something that was measured while not overreacting, but that would look after people’s health while keeping government from choking the life out of business and commerce.
Kay Ivey: (03:52)
I’ve also said that we would keep all options on the table as it relates to how we would respond and when we would do more. Alabama is seeing an increasing number of positives, positive tests every day with over 160 new positives yesterday and likely a greater number today. At least 34 people have died, including someone as young as 33 years of age. Our expected surge in hospitalization will occur in about two or three weeks and those patients are the ones who’ll become infective in the next few days. So folks, we need to extend our health orders now. Over 200 of Alabama’s health care workers are already infected and those people will be unable to work in the next couple of weeks since they will be isolated at home. We now have outbreaks in multiple nursing homes in our state which have led to deaths of several residents and today I am convinced that our previous efforts to limit social interaction and reduce the chances of spreading this virus have not been enough and that’s why we are taking this more drastic step. The people of Alabama know some of what we’ve already been doing in an attempt to prevent the spread of covid-19. We closed our schools, extended the spring break in hopes that that would be a good start. We issued social distancing guidelines and urged the people to practice good sound hygiene and reduce the number of people who could gather in one place at a time. When the college students couldn’t stay away from each other, we shut the beaches down long before any of our other sister Gulf States did so or even considered doing so. We also closed restaurants statewide leaving only takeout and delivery a full three days before Alabama reported our first death on March the 25th. My friends, I remind you of all this because Dr. Harris and I have tried to do everything we knew to do to keep from having to take the strong measure, but late yesterday afternoon it became obvious that more has to be done.
Kay Ivey: (06:47)
The United States now has twice as many cases as any other country and one quarter of all the cases worldwide. For each of the last two days, the United States has had over 1000 deaths, which is twice the number of flu deaths the United States usually experiences in a day and folks, April stands to be very tough and potentially very deadly, a very deadly month for our state. I can’t say this anymore clearly, the covid-19 is an eminent threat to our way of life and you need to understand that we are past urging people to stay at home. It is now the law.
Kay Ivey: (07:46)
As with all our orders like this, there are a few exceptions. You can still go out and get your groceries and your medicines. You’re encouraged to still order takeout food from your favorite restaurant but the stores will be required to institute more stringent rules to keep a safer number of customers from shopping at any one time and if they don’t, there will be consequences. Naturally, there are still some people and many companies, agencies and departments who are considered essential to the flow of commerce and public safety. This is all outlined in my new order.
Kay Ivey: (08:34)
My friends, staying at home is for your own good. It’s also for the wellbeing of those you love and let’s be honest, while the initial focus of this disease was intended to urge people like me, folks who are over 65 and have a preexisting health condition to stay at home, the fact is, however, that the median age of those being impacted by covid-19 is now 49. No one is immune from this.
Kay Ivey: (09:10)
It’s not even safe to go to our places of worship and congregate as we are so used to doing even at this Holy time of the year. My fellow Alabamians I plead with you, I urge you in the strongest way possible. We’ve got to take this order deadly serious. Otherwise, it is a fact that more people will die. And if you are looking forward to this summer for time to go walk on the sandy shores and visit our beach or visit the lake, we need to take this action today. If you want to be healthy this summer to do that, we need to take this action today and if you’re eager for a fall football season coming up, well, what we are doing today gives us a better chance to be able to do that as well.
Kay Ivey: (10:09)
The good Lord reminds us in Isaiah chapter 43 verses one through three and I quote, “Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” Folks, now is the time to make a difference. Now is the time to be strong and now is to be together Alabama, even when we staying six feet apart.
Kay Ivey: (10:47)
At this point I want to bring up Dr. Scott Harris who has been ever so important in the on and on relationship as we’ve worked through this episode and I went to talk him before we came in. He’s never seen anything like this and certainly nor have I. Dr. Harris is a widely respected specialist in infectious diseases and goodness knows his experience and his expertise are needed now more than ever. Dr. Harris.
Dr. Harris: (11:33)
Thank you Governor. Thank you very much. I have to start by thanking Governor Ivey for her willingness to tackle this really, really challenging and difficult problem. This is really an unprecedented time. Neither Alabama nor the world has really dealt with a situation like this in the lifetimes of any of us here and there are no simple solutions and so we have continued to try to get the best information we can and try to come up with the best possible solutions we can and I just want to say thank you for your leadership on that, for working through these really, really difficult and extraordinary times. As you know, we had issued health orders before. This will be an additional amendment to the health order that we have and Governor Ivey covered the details of that quite well but basically we need people to stay at home and people are ordered to stay at home except for these essential services and functions that we mentioned.
Dr. Harris: (12:33)
Certainly we understand that there are reasons people need to get out and there are things like food and medical care and taking care of others in your family or people who need help. Certainly there are church services and there are recreational things that people may want to do in terms of not in groups, but in exercising, and we certainly understand that. But the default position for everyone is they need to stay at home. We need to stay at home, if at all possible.
Dr. Harris: (13:02)
We do. We need to stay at home, if at all possible. The best way to stop the transmission of this disease is to stay six feet apart from everyone else, and that’s what we would ask people to do.
Dr. Harris: (13:14)
I’ve spent a lot of time working with other states who have gone through this a few days or so before us and with the Governor’s staff and trying to craft a health order that would be compassionate to people, that will recognize the reality of life and how people need to seek services, how people need to maintain their livelihoods, and yet provide the most safety and protection for the health of people in our state.
Dr. Harris: (13:39)
We will be glad to go through that with you, a little bit later. There is a lot of detail in there, but we really need the people of Alabama to pay attention. We really need them to understand that this important and can save a life. It may save your own life, but certainly the life of someone that you love or care about or someone in your community. By following these guidelines, you’re protecting the people who work in your community in these essential functions. Health care workers like nurses and doctors in your community won’t get sick or as likely to get sick if you will observe these, and that protects all of us. It protects our hospitals. It protects our ability to care for those who are most vulnerable.
Dr. Harris: (14:20)
So again, Governor, thank you so much for your leadership on this. I sincerely appreciate it.
Kay Ivey: (14:28)
Joining us next is Alabama’s Attorney General Steve Marshall. In good times and bad, Alabamians want to have confidence in our chief law enforcement of our state and our attorney general is always looking out for the best interest, and whether it’s going after price gougers, or counterfeiters, or helping enforce the laws of our state, we have a man of strong conviction, a man of a good heart in Steve Marshall. General Marshall.
AG Steve Marshall: (15:09)
Governor Ivey, thank you and good afternoon. T ‘s health order, like the ones that have been adopted in recent weeks is an emergency rule of the Department of Public Health. Meaning as a result of Alabama law, it carries the full weight of our law. And as we made clear in recent guidance involving other health orders that have been entered, Alabama law provides a means for criminal enforcement for violations of health department rules. Yes, this order can be enforced criminally.
AG Steve Marshall: (15:42)
However, it is my hope that all Alabamians will hear me when I say this, and I think I speak for all those who stand up here today, it is our hope that these laws do not have to be enforced criminally against any individual or business. What we hope for and what the Governor has so eloquently demanded is willful compliance.
AG Steve Marshall: (16:06)
This is a time when we should be working together to get through an extremely difficult time. It’s not a time for overly aggressive law enforcement actions, but it’s also not a time for our citizens to brazenly ignore what’s being asked of them. My hope is that citizens also understand that law enforcement officers are risking their own lives as they do daily to ensure the health and safety of others. These officers are doing their best to be able to exercise discretion, while at the same time ensuring public safety in these difficult times.
AG Steve Marshall: (16:44)
As I’ve said from week one, the unprecedented nature of this pandemic and the evolving governmental response demands some restraint in the criminal enforcement of the order. And while that criminal enforcement may not be desired, if there is a violator who has been made aware of the state health order and if that refusal to comply presents a threat to public safety and welfare, then the criminal penalties of Alabama Code Section 22-2-14 are available as an enforcement tool for communities. To my friends in law enforcement, to the extent that you have issues, concerns about any issue involving this order, we are there to give you guidance and direction in the decision-making relating to the enforcement of these provisions.
AG Steve Marshall: (17:33)
And let me close by simply saying this: None of us are immune from the substantial sacrifices that we are being asked to make. And to some extent, I know that there can be anger or frustration and heartache among many, including members of our own staff. It is for that reason that it is my hope going forward. In fact, it is my prayer that we experience God’s mercies in a new and refreshing way as we deal with the challenging times and days ahead.
Kay Ivey: (18:07)
Thank you, General Marshall. Before we go to the Q&A session, I want to call on a man that I have come to know and hold in high regard, Reverend Cromwell Handy.
Kay Ivey: (18:21)
Very possibly there is no more famous nor iconic church in Alabama than the Dexter Avenue Memorial King Baptist Church, just a couple of blocks down the street. Founded in 1879, this church has ministered to the needs of our community for generations. And from 1954 to 1960, this house of God became the home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who led the congregation during this time. And if Dr. King were alive today, I am confident he would be so pleased that a man whose mission is serving the Lord as is the case with Reverend Handy is standing in the same pulpit that Dr. King preached in.
Kay Ivey: (19:09)
Reverend Handy, friend, thank you for being with us today. Reverend Handy.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (19:25)
Thank you, Governor Ivey, for the honor of being here today. God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good, even at a time such as this. Over the last few weeks or months, the world has found itself in the clutches of a pandemic that we all know is continuing to spike in the numbers of infections and in deaths. The world has found itself in what is referred to a biblical term called Selah. That’s S-E-L-A-H. A Hebrew word that in many biblical scholars’ minds mean to pause and to reflect. Because of the way it’s used, it’s often used in the Book of Psalms and the Prophet [inaudible 00:20:31] also used it as well. This is a word that reminds me of what we are going through right now as we are experiencing a Selah for the world.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (20:45)
Who would have thought that the world could be brought to its knees by something that cannot even be seen by the naked eye? It’s like a sci-fi move, The Twilight Zone, only this is real.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (21:05)
I say this to say that whatever we are involved in, we have been impacted by the very real reality of a life-and-death situation. Only God can do or allow this to occur and God is real.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (21:25)
Now, I didn’t come to preach to you, but only to remind us that I believe and we all know that only God can push the pause button on the world. Its busy schedule and all of its activities are paused and opportunity, a Selah, to reflect on the King of Glory.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (21:49)
David used this term twice in Psalm 24. The first Selah follows the fact that the Earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. Selah. Pause and reflect.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (22:05)
The second Selah follows a rhetorical question and the only true answer to that question, the question was who is the King of Glory? The Lord, strong and mighty. Who is the King of Glory? The Lord, mighty in battle.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (22:26)
The good news for this [inaudible 00:22:31] moment in the history of the world is that the Lord is the King of Glory and as children of God, we shall not fear, even in death. Psalm 116, verse 15, says to us previous in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants. Even in panic and fear for some, the Lord almighty and all of this will be glorified. Paul says in 2 Timothy, first chapter, verse seven, he says here for the God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a power of love and of a sound mind. God’s Word is His Promise. So if He gives us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind, we should trust Him at his Word.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (23:28)
Did you know that we have the power to choose at this time, joy and peace, despite the troubles of the world? Nothing can take this away from us. The world didn’t give it to us, and the world can’t take it away. A time to enjoy our family, and a time to maybe discover who your neighbors truly are.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (23:53)
Do you know that we have love that surpasses all understanding? That we are able to care for one another, show our love for one another, and even risk our lives for one another even as our health care workers are doing right now? Do you know that the Lord has given us a sound mind or self-control, that we are able to reason and use common sense and exercise prudence in lining up with the will of God? If the Lord our God says stay home, stay home. If the Lord our God says keep your distance and wash your hands frequently, keep your distance and wash your hands frequently. If the Lord says to pray and trust in Him, pray and trust that He will meet and give us everything we ever want, ever hope for, and could ever imagine. If the Lord, which I do know as we stand here today, say stay home for the next few days or the rest of the month, listen to what the Lord is saying to us. He gives us common sense and he also give us prudence to exercise even as we exercise our faith.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (25:13)
I want to leave on this note, Psalm 46, verses one through three and verses 10 and 11. God is our refuge and strength. Always ready to help in times of trouble, so we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (25:47)
Then, he goes on to say in verse 10 and 11, be still. I’m going to translate to stay home. Be still and know that I am God. I will be…
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (26:03)
That I am God. I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. As we are aware, this is a world issue. Not just Alabama. But, for the great state of Alabama, we will be obedient to the all mighty God and stay home. Be still. And, know that he is God. Verse 11 says, “The Lord of host’s army, of heaven’s army is here among us. The God of Israel, our fortress.” Let us pray. Let us practice faith not fear.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (26:40)
Let us practice prudence as God has given us guidance and wisdom and not stupidity. Let us not allow our faith to walk out into things that the Lord, our God, has already given us an escape from. And, a method to survive. In all things, give thanks and pray without ceasing, for God is still in control. We’ve got the power, the love, and a sound mind. And, we will practice faith, not fear, while exercising prudence and wisdom.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (27:21)
When this is all over, and this too shall pass, the world will know that God did it. So, I say to us, today, that even in our jobs, even in our other endeavors, our desires to get out, even as we are, as members of our churches all over this world, all over Christian and even during the times such as the Lenten season and a partner is giving up something, as we began to celebrate during the resurrection of Christ, even during all of these times, whether we are in the same room or not, nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (28:06)
Especially if we have conference calls, teleconferencing, and other ways that we can communicate by way of the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s omnipresent. Can be anywhere, anytime, all the time because of our love of the Lord. I believe I was asked to do a benediction?
Kay Ivey: (28:31)
At the end. At the end.
Rev. Cromwell Handy: (28:32)
At the end. Okay. All right. At this time, I will yield back over to you, Governor. And, thank you again for allowing me to be here.
Kay Ivey: (28:39)
Thank you, Reverend Hendi.
Speaker 2: (28:39)
Kay Ivey: (28:47)
Governor, all this week you have been kind of resist taking this more aggressive step. And, you said yesterday afternoon that changed. What changed and did you see any data that suggests that Alabamians weren’t staying home? And, could you describe that?
Kay Ivey: (29:04)
Well, yesterday, the number of the new cases jumped to 160 and that was a big jump. And, also, E-M-A shared with us metrics that they got from the cell phone data. And, it just shows that people are not paying attention to the orders that we’ve asked them to abide by by social distinction distancing and staying six feet apart and staying at home if they could. So, bottom line is, folks are just not paying attention. Yes, sir?
Speaker 3: (29:40)
Governor, could you describe just some of the penalties that could be levied for anybody who’s going to be violating this order?
Kay Ivey: (29:48)
Penalties? General Marshall.
AG Steve Marshall: (29:53)
Right under the public health act, the penalty is equivalent to a class C misdemeanor. So, a fine up to $500. It also speaks to every day in violation would be a new offense.
Speaker 4: (30:08)
General Marshall, can you talk about who is responsible for enforcing that? Is that local police?
AG Steve Marshall: (30:10)
It’s just enforced as any other misdemeanor would be. It could be at a local municipal court, it could be through district courts in our counties. And, it can be done through local prosecutors, D-As, as well as our office.
Speaker 5: (30:20)
I know you have said you hope people will police all of this. But, how do you police this number of people at essential retailers?
Kay Ivey: (30:20)
State your question again.
Speaker 5: (30:20)
Sure. How will this be policed at essential retailers? Is this going to be a strain on police department, sheriff’s departments? How is this really going to be enforced?
AG Steve Marshall: (30:48)
Governor, I’ll take it if you want me to.
Kay Ivey: (30:48)
AG Steve Marshall: (30:50)
Part of it is, that it’s not what, I think, you’ll see from this order is not completely inconsistent with what we’ve seen already. I do think that there are some very specific provisions now about the number of people that can be inside certain essential retailers. And, so, I think we’ve seen cooperation from many of those retailers in already implementing many of those strategies. And, our opportunity is to be able to respond when complaints are heard. And, then, for us as an attorney General’s office, to be able to educate law enforcement specifically about what the parameters are of this order and how it is that they can go about making sure that someone is either in compliance or those that aren’t.
Speaker 6: (31:24)
[inaudible 00:31:35]. We’ve heard 25. We’ve heard 10. Can either of you clarify what the exact number is of people that are allowed into the [inaudible 00:31:25] retail stores?
Kay Ivey: (31:52)
The stores now are limited to 50% of the fire marshal’s normal occupancy rate. Like at Publix or Walmart or et cetera. And, the smaller businesses are urged to use the creativity that the restaurants have done. They closed in service dining. But, they’ve also found ways to issue take out and home deliveries and online requests, et cetera. So, I’m hoping that some of our smaller business who will do that as well.
Kay Ivey: (32:28)
Somebody just sort of explain the main differences between what we already had. You know, orders in place. What is the biggest differences now? How are people most affected by what they can do now?
Dr. Harris: (32:43)
Sure, I’ll be glad to do that, Mike. This is an order for people to stay at home. And, previously, what we had done was to close a certain venues like related to entertainment or athletic facilities or there were certain retail that we had termed non essential retail and those businesses were affected or restricted in some ways, like restaurants, as a way of not encouraging people to get out of their homes.
Dr. Harris: (33:06)
Well, this is an order that tells people that they must stay home. This is not an order that tells businesses, in the same way, what they can or can’t do. This is an order to all Alabamians that they must remain at home except for those essential regions that they can travel that we included in the order.
Kay Ivey: (33:22)
Speaker 7: (33:22)
Dr. Harris: (33:31)
Yes. We’re still trying to get recovery data. We don’t have that simply because we’ve just started having cases just in the last couple of weeks. And, it takes a while to know that. When people are infected, they take a little bit of time, as you know, to recover.
Dr. Harris: (33:45)
We know just from looking around the world over the past three to four months, around 80% of people have a pretty mild illness. And, so, I don’t know that we would expect that to be any different here. But, because we’ve only begun to count cases in the last couple of weeks, we don’t have any data on recovery yet, but we plan to collect that.
Speaker 8: (34:06)
Dr. Harris, do you have any data on that social distancing? Or, what we’ve been doing up until now, is working or has worked?
Dr. Harris: (34:11)
Yeah, I’d say it’s almost too early to say right now. We believe social distancing makes the most sense. We know how the virus spreads and we know that keeping people apart limits the spread. But, the incubation period for infection can be anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks after someone’s been infected. So, the health orders that we issued, even two weeks ago, we would only just now be able to get any idea of whether they are working or not. And, so, at this time, we just don’t know yet.
Speaker 9: (34:41)
Is there an update on the number of resources that are available to test for the virus? [inaudible 00:34:51].
Dr. Harris: (34:52)
Yes, at the moment we do. We have requested ventilators and we were attempting to source those ourselves. As you know, all the states are looking to source their own. And, in some measure, competing with each other. But, right now we have adequate capacity. What’s interesting is that the hospitals report to us multiple times a day on their bed capacity and I-C-U capacity and ventilator availability and so on.
Dr. Harris: (35:16)
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve actually added quite a number of available ventilators. But, by, for example, converting the anesthesia machines, they’re actually been some veterinary facilities that have ventilators, which are actually the same, that are used for humans as well. And, so, we’ve actually added a, a fair number of ventilators. And, yet, even with adding all those ventilators going up by a few hundred units, the capacity has stayed about the same. Which means to tell you, we’re still using around the same percent of all our ventilators even though the number itself is going up.
Dr. Harris: (35:47)
So, we know that there are more patients on ventilators, more patients requiring that. We know of some hospitals in particular that really are struggling right now and are looking for ventilators. Hospitals are pretty good at sharing in Alabama. They have good cooperation and in times of disaster like tornado and hurricane, they have a good system worked out to share those resources around. But, they are really working hard to make sure that they have what they need and we are trying very hard, along with the governor’s office, to make sure that Alabama has enough inventory.
Speaker 9: (36:17)
Doctor, the institute for health matters evaluations says there’s going to be a shortage by April 17th of about 3000 ventilators. Thousands more beds will be needed. [inaudible 00:36:34] units. Have you seen that data? And, what’s your response to that? At the moment, we’re fine, but, just two weeks down the road.
Dr. Harris: (36:39)
Sure. I think everybody is looking at the I-H-M-E data. And, there are a number of other sources that are doing that. As you know, there are several different groups that are particularly associated with people like Google or Microsoft. And, they all kind of have their own think tanks and their own way of calculating that.
Dr. Harris: (36:56)
So, I think that’s very useful for us. It has been used for us in planning. I don’t think that they’re really able to put that precise and number on it at this time. And, when you actually look at the I-H-M-E side, they have a lot of qualifications and they have a lot of things that they don’t account for that they freely admit because it’s just hard to predict that. So, that’s been a real useful model for us, particularly with the timeline and understanding when we think we’re going to see the surge.
Dr. Harris: (37:24)
I don’t know that the actual numbers are going to be correct or not. I mean, they might be. And, we’re doing our best to prepare for that. We’ve talked to you before about surge. And, we’ve had a surge team working for a few weeks comprised of people that public health, the hospital association, the emergency management association, the national guard, and some others.
Dr. Harris: (37:45)
And, so, we are working on ways to make sure that we’re prepared for that surge, which we think is between two and three weeks away. A lot of the work that they do involves making capacity available at the facilities that we already have. So, for example, our health orders effecting elective procedures opens up hospital beds and opens up ventilators for people because those elective procedures can be postponed. Because people aren’t having as many outpatient or elective procedures, outpatient surgery centers or a site that we’ve identified that have medical beds and equipment and ventilators and so on.
Dr. Harris: (38:20)
So, that’ll be part of the plan as well. And, then, also, we’ve been working with the Army Corps of Engineers on actually identifying and getting ready for alternative care sites. And, those are the things that I’m sure you’ve seen on television and the big coliseum in New York city and so on. There’ve been a couple of things reported in the press here in Alabama. I’m sure you’ve seen about the Birmingham Jefferson civic center. And, the cruise ship in Mobile and so on.
Dr. Harris: (38:46)
There are some other sites that are being considered as well in the state, in Huntsville. And, here in Montgomery and Tuscaloosa and the Auburn area. So, the Army Corps of Engineers is helping us to get those ready to go. We have good plans in place and we think we can get those staffed and on a pretty short notice.
Dr. Harris: (39:03)
We think we can get those staffed on a pretty short notice.
Speaker 10: (39:04)
Does today’s order supersede similar orders pushed out by municipalities and counties on their own?
Dr. Harris: (39:13)
Our health order supersedes the health orders that are issued by Jefferson and Mobile County. As you know, they have their independent boards of health and their own health officers, but the health order, similar to what we’ve had before, allows those health officers to institute their own more stringent orders, if they like. Now, there are ordinances that are enacted by counties and cities, which is within their power to do, and that’s not directly affected by the health order from public health.
Speaker 10: (39:45)
Dr. Harris, I’m looking at [inaudible 00:39:45] operations, and it’s very [inaudible 00:39:52]. Just describe, just in personal terms, how can people expect their lives to change out of this order [inaudible 00:40:04]?
Dr. Harris: (40:06)
Sure. I think now, as we mentioned before, the default position is people should stay home. The essential business list is necessary, because clearly there are a lot of ordinary, normal facts of life that go on whether we’re supposed to be isolated at home or not, and so we make this list to make sure we’re trying to think of all the possibilities. But in fact the essential business list is not meant to be a whole list of loopholes for people to get out of staying at home and doing the right thing.
Dr. Harris: (40:34)
It’s meant to provide for those things that are truly essential, and we’ve tried really hard to over-include, I guess, to make sure we haven’t left off essential functions. But what we need the public to understand is it’s not a list of things to look for and see if you can figure out a way to not keep yourself at home. We need Alabamians to make sure that they stay at home. Things will look a lot different in our state in the next two or three weeks if we can just get people to see that and to agree to do that.
Speaker 10: (41:00)
Dr. Harris, can you speak to the effectiveness of masks and gloves? [inaudible 00:41:03] we see people on there with masks. Some have gloves. We’re hearing a lot of different mixed feelings on them. Could you speak to that?
Dr. Harris: (41:12)
Sure. We’ve talked before, as recently as a couple of weeks ago, that there’s never been good evidence that the ordinary cloth masks that people wear is effective for preventing transmission of the disease. There’s some evidence that really supports that pretty well. However, the thinking has changed over the past couple of weeks, because of the sheer numbers of cases that we have in the country now, with hundreds of thousands of people who are infected. And so I think we’re going to see new guidance issued maybe today, but in the next day or so, by CDC, which says that masks are okay.
Dr. Harris: (41:50)
I think it’s safe to say that they don’t do any harm, as long as people who wear them don’t get a false sense of security and they don’t put themselves at risk otherwise because of a mask. It’s definitely clear that the N95 respirator type of mask is the best mask to protect people from COVID-19, but certainly cloth masks can protect people from droplets from coughing and sneezing. And so at this time, we don’t think there’s a reason not to use them, and I think we’ll get more clear guidance on that real soon.
Speaker 10: (42:21)
Governor Ivey, can you talk a little bit about this [inaudible 00:42:28]?
Kay Ivey: (42:21)
Speaker 10: (42:21)
Kay Ivey: (42:32)
I’m sorry, I just didn’t understand your last part.
Speaker 10: (42:36)
[inaudible 00:42:36] of protection against evictions. Can you discuss that?
Speaker 11: (42:36)
You’re referring to [inaudible 00:42:40]?
Speaker 10: (42:36)
Kay Ivey: (42:36)
So the question is what, now?
Speaker 10: (42:48)
Could you discuss, this is an order basically that says all [inaudible 00:42:53] place of residence. Can you discuss that [inaudible 00:43:00]?
Kay Ivey: (43:02)
The bottom line is, people need to take this order seriously. We’ve been asking people to stay at home or to not go out if they didn’t have to, but not as many people have been paying attention as we desperately need to pay attention. So this is an order to say, “Just stay at home.” And staying at home doesn’t mean that you invite your bridge club over and have a good game of bridge. It means stay at home and be isolated away from a bunch of folks. Certainly being with your family in your home is one thing. But y’all, it’s just time to take this thing real serious, because the individuals in this state hold the future in their respective hands. Individuals can make a difference.
Speaker 10: (43:47)
Governor, did you receive any urging from fellow elected officials or people in federal agencies to make this decision today?
Kay Ivey: (43:55)
No, I did not.
Speaker 11: (43:56)
We’ve got time for one more question.
Speaker 10: (43:56)
[inaudible 00:44:00]. Could you speak to the backlog of tests that are [inaudible 00:44:04]?
Kay Ivey: (44:04)
Can I speak to what?
Speaker 10: (44:05)
The backlog of tests that are waiting.
Speaker 11: (44:10)
Kay Ivey: (44:11)
Backlog of tests?
Dr. Harris: (44:11)
Yes, ma’am. Sure. Because of the sheer increase in the numbers of sites that are testing, some of the commercial labs are reporting backlogs. I’ve seen backlogs of seven or eight days at some point. I think that’s similar to many places in the country. There are a number of places that are doing testing now, and we’ve added some testing facilities, not just specimen collection sites, but actually a laboratory that are doing testing throughout the state in places like Huntsville and in Mobile. The labs that come to public health, we actually are still at quoting everyone a turn around time of up to 72 hours. But we’re actually getting those out in about 24 hours. So the backlog has not been with us.
Dr. Harris: (44:51)
We have had a little bit stricter criteria on testing, as we’ve discussed before. So we’re taking samples from those patients who are at highest risk for disease or at highest risk for complications if they were to get infected. So the numbers we received might be a little less than some of the commercial labs. But some of the big sort of popup testing sites with drive-through patients and so on, they’re collecting large numbers and they’re using the big commercial labs for that, and I think the numbers have just kind of overwhelmed the system. Remember there were no tests for this disease really until January, and no tests widely available to anyone until late February. So I think those commercial labs are just having to ramp up their ability to do that.
Speaker 10: (45:37)
Are we going to see a spike [inaudible 00:45:38] positive results?
Dr. Harris: (45:43)
It’s kind of ironic, in a way, that the test result really doesn’t change the advice you give an individual patient. When someone comes in and they say, “I have respiratory symptoms and cough and fever,” the advice of that patient is, “Go home and isolate yourself until you get better.” And so we certainly do encourage those patients to be tested because we have the outbreak now, and obviously there’s a lot of peace of mind involved if you get a test, and for public health data reasons, we like to have a test. But in fact, what we tell that actual patient is going to be the same, whether the test comes back positive or negative. If the test comes back negative, it only means we didn’t detect it with the test. It still doesn’t even mean that the patient doesn’t have the disease. So what we tell the patient is the same, “Go home until you get well.”
Speaker 11: (46:28)
All right. Thank you, guys. If you have questions, the Governor [crosstalk 00:46:28]-
Kay Ivey: (46:28)
Before we leave today, though, I’d like to ask Reverend Handy to come and lead us in a prayer to God Almighty, asking for his blessings. Reverend Handy.
Reverend Hendy: (46:45)
Let us bow in humble submission to the Lord God Almighty. Eternal Father, God, we again, even at a time such as this, are thankful for yet another opportunity to be in your presence. Father God, we accept that you are the author and perfecter of our faith, and by being so, oh God, as we go through all that we go through on this side of life, Lord God we know it is for the purpose of building our faith in you. So Lord, help us to be faithful. Help us to be obedient to your word. Help us, oh God to accept your advice and guidance in all that we do. We pray for this state of Alabama, all of its citizens, red, yellow, black and white. We all know we are precious in your sight. So Lord, we pray, Oh God, that you touch each and every one of us at our point of need and touch us right now.
Reverend Hendy: (47:49)
Lord God, we pray for those who are impacted by the loss of loved ones right now [inaudible 00:47:55] particular coronavirus, oh God. We acknowledge, oh God, that you are God and you are God all by yourself, and you are a sovereign God and that will shall be done. Father God, we pray your blessings upon each and every person who has been infected by this particular virus. Whatever illness they may have, Oh God, we ask in Jesus’ name that you allow that they shall receive the glory and the power of your might, that you shall heal them and touch each and every one of us again at our point of need. We thank you, oh God, for your grace. We thank you, Lord God, for your mercy and ask that you have mercy on us, not only here in the state of Alabama, but the United States and the entire world, oh God.
Reverend Hendy: (48:38)
The world is yours and the earth is yours and everything in it, and Lord, we acknowledge, even at a time such as this, how good you truly are. Lord God, we ask your blessings, that you bless us, Lord. Keep us, make your face shine upon us and be gracious unto us. We ask, oh God, that you surround us with a hedge of protection, Lord, acknowledging that no weapon formed against us shall ever be able to prosper. Remind us, oh Lord, that as we go through that we are more than conquerors. We again thank you for your grace. We love you, Lord, and we’ll lift you up even at a time such as this. We ask your blessings upon the leadership of this nation, a special blessing upon the leadership of the great state of Alabama and all who are here. This we ask in Jesus’ name, and let’s all here say, “Amen.”
Kay Ivey: (49:36)
Amen. Thank you, Reverend Handy. Our gathering today is concluded.