Jun 30, 2020

Gov. Kay Ivey Alabama Press Conference Transcript June 30

Kay Ivey Alabama Press Conference June 30
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsGov. Kay Ivey Alabama Press Conference Transcript June 30

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey held a June 30 press conference on coronavirus. Ivey extended the  “Safer at Home” order, and Alabama beaches will remain open. Read the full news briefing speech here.

 

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Governor Kay Ivey: (00:15)
Well, good morning everyone, and thank you all so much for being here. Our current Safe at Home order will expire this coming Friday, July 3 at 5:00 PM. And we’re here to give you an update on what happens next. And as you can imagine, we’ve had lots of questions.

Governor Kay Ivey: (00:35)
Folks in just a couple of weeks, it will mark the four month period that our state has responded to COVID-19. And I am fully aware the physical, mental, and emotional pain, that this has caused our people. This is an unprecedented year, but not only for our state, but for our entire country and the world. We’ve lost family, friends to a new aggressive, deadly virus. People who’ve never filed unemployment have experienced pain and the loss of their job. Our citizens have been hurting in multiple ways.

Governor Kay Ivey: (01:19)
As I’ve said many times before, when we entered the April stay at home order, it was to allow our state to get our arms around the situation as much as possible. It was to keep our individuals, schools, and businesses from spreading the virus. And while focused on keeping people safe this order also unfortunately created a very difficult situation for many of our state’s businesses, both large and small.

Governor Kay Ivey: (01:48)
But COVID-19 requires that all people practice social distancing, personal hygiene, and wearing face masks that some categories of businesses could not adequately do while operating. The order was enacted to allow or government to shift and to be able to respond with as many resources as possible. And the order also allowed our hospitals to prepare and hopefully not become overwhelmed. As of now, they are not overwhelmed.

Governor Kay Ivey: (02:20)
I firmly believe that you can not have a life without a strong livelihood and having a shutdown for months on end was never my intent. It was also unsustainable. In the last few weeks, the COVID-19 cases have continued to rise and currently there are over 33,000 Alabamians who have contacted this disease to date. Over 800 have died. While we are not overwhelmed yet, we should not think that because our summer feels more normal than our spring that we are back to normal. Fact is folks, we are still in the thick of this virus disease and it is deadly.

Governor Kay Ivey: (03:03)
We’re learning how to live with this disease and need to continue to do what we need to do to avoid another stay at home order. That means to maintain six foot social distancing, to stay at home unless you just must get out to go to work or for a necessity and when you’re in public, for goodness sake, where a mask.

Governor Kay Ivey: (03:28)
Dr. Harris and I can order you to wear a mask, but it would be next to impossible to enforce. But you know, you shouldn’t have to order somebody to do what is just in your own best interest and that of the folks that you care about, your family, friends, and neighbors. So today I’m announcing that our current Safer at Home order is set to expire on July 3, we will be extending that to July 31 at 5:00 PM. Again, we can not sustain a delayed way of life even as we search for a vaccine. There are many viruses that we live with already, and we worked the necessary precautions into our daily lives.

Governor Kay Ivey: (04:14)
But let me urge you in the strongest manner I can to incorporate COVID-19 cautions into your daily routine. As a reminder of what’s in the current order, maintain six foot social distancing. We strongly encourage you to wear a face mask when out in public, and what that means even if you just run into the grocery store, or go into pick up a pair of shoes for your child, or just go into the office. Your personal responsibility means it’s everyone’s responsibility. Personal responsibility also extends to the store manager and owner, hairstylist, restaurateur, youth sports coach and pastors. It takes us all to be vigilant and adhering to these social distancing guidelines in order to stop the spread of this deadly disease. And y’all, when you on the baseball field or at the lake or the beach, or celebrating a birthday, be sure to maintain at least a six foot distance. We must each do our part.

Governor Kay Ivey: (05:24)
Many people speculate that our recent rising rates as a result of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Well folks if that’s true, that’s alarming and we have to do better as we come up on the 4th of July Independence Day. And while I love to celebrate our great nation’s birthday as much as anyone, it does not mean that social distancing should not apply, even at the beach, even at the lake even when you’re out with your friends. If we continue to going in the wrong direction and our hospitals are not able to handle the capacity, then we’re going to reserve the right to come back and reverse course. Living with COVID-19 has become our new normal, and we should expect to live with it as long as it takes, until the cases start to decline, or our medical experts find a vaccine.

Governor Kay Ivey: (06:22)
So now let me invite Dr. Harris to come up and give his report and then I’d like to ask Representative Dexter Grimsley and Dexter McLendon of Greenville to share their respective testimonies on how COVID-19 has directly affected them and their families. Then we’ll be happy to take your questions. Dr. Harris.

Dr. Harris: (06:52)
Thank you very much. Good morning, everybody. Thank you for joining us today and Governor Ivey, thank you so much for those remarks. Really, really appreciate that. As the Governor mentioned, we’re well over 30,000 confirmed cases so far in Alabama. We’ve had more than 10,000 cases confirmed just in the past 14 days. That works out to around 28% of all of our cases have been confirmed just in the past 14 days. Even though we’re testing more than we have ever tested the percentage of tests that are positive in fact is going up and is now as high as it has been, just under 11% where it’s been for the past couple of weeks. So even though we’re testing more, we’re finding a greater percentage of people who are positive and that means we know that we have increasing transmission going on in the community.

Dr. Harris: (07:48)
Our hospitals today are actually reporting more confirmed COVID-19 inpatients than they have seen so far during the outbreak. More than 750 Alabamians hospitalized today around the state. About 300 more who are hospitalized, awaiting confirmation by awaiting test results. So these numbers are higher than we have seen so far. We have around 275 ICU beds remaining statewide, all total.

Dr. Harris: (08:19)
As you all know unfortunately, over 130,000 Americans have lost their lives so far since this began in late February. Here in Alabama we’ve lost more than 900 Alabamians. For those over age 65, that represents people over age 65, make up about three quarters of that group. About three quarters of all of our deaths have occurred in our seniors, even though they’re only about 17% of our cases. If you do that math that works out to seniors who are infected with this disease, have about a one in nine chance of not surviving. And that’s a tragedy. I just want to use this …

Dr. Harris: (09:03)
That’s a tragedy. I just want to use this opportunity just to plead with Alabamians. Please continue to take this seriously. I know so many of you have, and I’ve heard from so many people who are helpful and supportive. But we know that there are many people that have not yet gotten the message. Our state is opened back up in many ways, but this is not the time to let our guard down. That’s particularly true for those folks who are senior citizens, or those that have chronic health problems. This is still a safer at home order that’s being enacted, and you are safer at home, particularly if you have a chronic health problem or you’re an older person. Please continue to stay home if you’re sick. Please continue to wash your hands. Please continue to use face coverings when you go out in public.

Dr. Harris: (09:51)
The reason to do that is because you care about other people. We know that face coverings aren’t perfect, and they don’t prevent everything. But we do know that they limit your chance of giving the infection to someone else if you have it. And as we know, many people who can spread the disease don’t even know that they’re infected. There’s so many uncertain things going on in the world right now, but this is one thing that we actually have power over. It’s in our power to stop this. Each one of us with our own individual behavior, has the ability to prevent the spread of this disease. And I would just encourage you to continue doing that. We all know what we need to do, and we all can do that. One of the projects we’ve been working on at ADPH is trying to make our data a little more accessible and understandable by the public.

Dr. Harris: (10:42)
We have spoken a little bit about this recently, but by the end of the day today, we’re going to roll out a statewide map that will have a color coding by county, showing the alert level for each county. It’s going to be a red, orange, yellow, green type of classification. And we’re going to base those colors on the data that’s already available on the dashboard. We’ve had county-level data available on our dashboard for a few weeks, but it can be sort of difficult to interpret and to do correlate and to compare yourself with other counties. So we’re going to use this mechanism as a way of letting you get just a quick glimpse at what’s going on in your county, throughout the state. The criteria that we’re basing this on, have to do with the 14 day trend of cases in your state.

Dr. Harris: (11:31)
We’re going to look at the number of cases over the past 14 days, whether they’ve gone up or whether they’re going down or remaining flat. And for those counties that have had cases increasing for two weeks or more, that’s a red level designation. We adjust that based on the amount of testing that we do, because obviously the more testing you can do, the more pieces that you can pick up. For those counties that have had increases in their rate [inaudible 00:02:58], that’s an orange level designation. Or for those that are increasing for only less than a week, that’s a yellow level designation. And for those few counties that have rates that have decreased during that time, that actually becomes a green level designation. Interestingly, the counties may not necessarily be what you would expect. You will see later today when this rolls out. At the moment, we know that Montgomery County has had a decrease in its average cases over the past several days and will be a green level designation.

Dr. Harris: (12:32)
That’s not to say that green is all clear or green is normal. Green represents, still, a level of alert that we want people to understand and take seriously. Green certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to have issues with our hospitals here in the Montgomery area. As we know, they’re still seeing high levels of cases. But each color-coded level will correlate with guidance that we’re issuing about what the public can do. These are not orders or mandates, but just recommendations about gatherings, about face coverings, about hand-washing, about social distancing and other things. And we want the public to be aware of this, to look at it and think about it. It’s something that can be used by local officials as well, as they decide how to do things for their community. It’s a way for schools, and circuit courts, and businesses, and other organizations in the community to get an idea of how they are doing and how to proceed.

Dr. Harris: (13:33)
So we’ll have this on our website by the close of business today. We’ll update it weekly on Fridays. And we hope you’ll take a look at that and get a better understanding of what’s going on in your own community. So finally, again, I would just like to reiterate what Governor Ivey said. This is really a time for us to step up and take responsibility for our own behavior. What you do affects other people, and what you do can really affect other people in very serious ways. So please think about those in your family, those in your church, at your workplace, and in your community. And please do your best to take care of those others. Thank you.

Speaker 1: (14:15)
Representative Grimsley.

Rep. Grimsley: (14:20)
Good morning. Let me start by saying thank you to Governor Ivey for giving me the opportunity to be here at this press conference today, and just want to thank her for her current leadership on the situation that we were fighting with COVID-19 around the state and around the country and around the world. I’d also like to thank all of our essential workers in the state. I’m thankful for all of our frontline workers, such as nurses, doctors, and I thank Dr. Harris for everything that Public Health has done. Just so thankful that we still, even through this situation, we still have hope, and we still have an opportunity to do what’s needed in order to fight this troubling times that we’re in. There are some things that we don’t know. I can understand that.

Rep. Grimsley: (15:05)
We don’t know when a vaccine will be developed that will successfully ward off this battle that we’re in right now. We have no idea. Even the medication that we might be able to formulate, will be able to better treat or give therapies for COVID-19. We’ll be speculating for years whether or not each state, or Alabama, made the proper decisions, or whether or not we did what was right at the proper times. And that’ll be up for debate no matter who makes that decision or what happens. But I turn away from the things that we don’t know to let us look at the things that we do know. We do know people are getting sick from COVID-19. We know that people are dying around the state of Alabama, around the country ,and around the world from COVID-19. So what we do know is COVID-19 is real. And since we know that, we need to better protect ourselves and others.

Rep. Grimsley: (16:03)
Some of us know it through TV. Some of us know it through different avenues. People have told us that people are sick and dying. Some of us know it personally. I had a sister back in the early fight with this battle, 58 years old, who we lost. She came to COVID-19 a fun-loving person. She was a nurse for over 20 years, so she understood medical terminology and medical terms. And I bet you if she could still hear or still know what was going on as she was on the life support, and intubated, and all that stuff, I’m sure she was laying there saying that she hopes that no one else go through what she’s going through. So today, I’d say to the state of Alabama to live off the things that we do know. We do know that we can protect ourselves from COVID-19 to an extent. We know we can protect others to COVID-19 by following recommendations that our health leaders have told us, and just by using common sense. It makes more sense to me to wear a mask.

Rep. Grimsley: (17:05)
And I can’t force anyone to wear a mask, but I do know that any level of protection is better than no level of protection. And if she was alive today, that is exactly what she’d be calling me, telling me each and every day. Protect yourself and protect others. We have frontline workers who have to go back to work and work long shifts because of my personal decision not to wear a mask, and possibly get sick, and fill up our ICU beds. They asked me just to speak personally today, so that’s what I do. We have to make decisions today to do what we’re being advised to do. It’s not too hard if you decide to wear a mask and go out in public, and not spread or not bring home. It’s not too hard for us to go into stores and put on a mask, just protect those in there. It’s not too hard to wash your hands, as been recommended to keep cleanliness and proper hygiene in order to fight this disease. We, the people of Alabama, have a choice. And it’s not as a group of people. It’s an individual choice that we.

Rep. Grimsley: (18:03)
It’s not as a group of people, it’s an individual choice that we make today going forward until we can find a way to get out of this battle that we find ourselves in. And I just know that we have that opportunity to do that today. I encourage the state of Alabama to follow the rules and guidelines set by the Department of Public Health and also follow common sense coming up on this 4th of July weekend. We want to celebrate, but we don’t want to lose anybody else. We’re in changing times. So, in changing times, we’ve got to change our habits, our behaviors, even our thoughts when it comes down to protecting ourself and others from COVID-19. Again, I thank you for the opportunity. And I hope that we can sustain this battle. And, of course, I know that even this too shall pass. Thank you.

Speaker 2: (18:43)
Thank you so much. Mayor McLendon.

Mayor McLendon: (18:51)
Morning. First off, I’d like to thank the Governor for the opportunity to come and talk a little bit about what Janice and I went through. She is Kay to me, always will be. We’ve been friends a long time and had a mutual friend that brought us together on several occasions. I have a lot of respect. And, to Dr. Harris, I can mark something off my bucket list because I’ve been wanting to meet Dr. Harris because I’ve been so impressed with what he’s done.

Mayor McLendon: (19:28)
And one of the things in Greenville that we did right off the bat, we made a decision that we were going to listen to what the governor was saying and Dr. Harris was saying, because they have more information than we did. I want to tell you today that I also happened to be chairman of the hospital in Greenville. About three years ago, we almost lost our hospital. We did something that I really don’t like doing. We did a half a cent sales tax to keep that hospital open. We were fortunate enough, with the governor’s help and other people, that UAB have come to our rescue. And, when I say that, they’re managing our hospital. I’m happy to say that we had a hospital because, if we had not had a hospital, if our hospital had been closed, yes, we had some deaths and we had a hotspot and our hotspots happened because people didn’t listen. But, if that hadn’t happened, if we had not had a hospital, then I believe we would have lost three or four times that amount. Our hospital has done a great job.

Mayor McLendon: (20:45)
I want to thank UAB today publicly. It’s the first opportunity I’ve really had to do that. They’ve been great. We’re very fortunate to have that facility in this state. We’re very fortunate to have these two people to my right that are doing this because they care and they want things to be better. And our job is to listen and use some common sense.

Mayor McLendon: (21:11)
I would like, on a personal note to tell you a little bit… and by the way, when I was called yesterday about coming up here, I said, what do you want me to talk about? And the answer was, whatever you want to talk about. And I said, well, that’s very dangerous. Okay? So, we are going to have lunch here in a few minutes for everybody in the room because I’m going to be long winded. I want you to know that there’s some things happened to our family that I can’t believe anybody would not take this serious. I just don’t understand it. Now, back in February or March, maybe I didn’t take it. I was all upset because it wasn’t going to have March Madness. But this is a lot bigger and a lot more important than that.

Mayor McLendon: (22:07)
So, my mother is 90 years old. And she is in the Greenville Nursing Home. I have not seen my mother since March. Her birthday, her 90th birthday was on April the seventh. Did not get to see her. Mother’s Day, did not get to see her. Family means a lot to us. Some of you might remember, but Thursday, seven years ago on July the second, my wife, who is sitting in the back, drowned in a pool. And they told me she was gone. I’m not telling you that this virus is something like that, but we have had the virus. My mother has had it. And, by the way, I’d like to say today, she is negative, two negatives. They’ve done a great job of getting that 90 year old lady who we love through this ordeal.

Mayor McLendon: (23:12)
I’d also like to say to you today that Janice and I had it. And it was a lot worse on Janice than it was me because she had to put up with me at the house for three weeks. But I am very, very blessed to have my mom and my wife that has gone through this and they’re okay. But I’m here to tell you today, this is not rocket science. Pay attention. Maybe in March you didn’t get it. But we’re in July. We’re almost in July. And, if you can’t figure this out by now, then I’ll be honest with you, there’s something wrong. And what they’re doing and what they’re telling us is for the best interest of our community. And we have taken their lead and we’re going to continue to take their lead.

Mayor McLendon: (24:05)
I think the mask is absolutely one of the most important things you can do. But I don’t… I believe in less government. And I do believe that trying to enforce that would be almost impossible in Butler County, in Greenville. That’s my opinion. I say to you today that this information needs to get out. These cameras are all here. Hopefully people are watching to make Alabama great. Okay? To make Greenville and Butler County great, to use some common sense. Every day somebody stops me and says, I’ll be glad when this is over. Well, it’s up to you to make it over.

Mayor McLendon: (24:56)
Now, this state right here is known for football. And that’s really, really important to us. Today, you can start making sure by doing what you’re supposed to do with common sense why we can have football in the fall, if it’s so important. But I will tell you, my mother’s life and my wife’s life is more important. And I love football. Our son is a football coach. And we love it. But it’s more important. Please, please listen to what we’re saying. Everybody is doing it because we love you. And our job, the way I’ve always looked at it, is to say, we’re going to leave this place better than we found it. Okay? So, let’s do that. That’s all I want anybody to say at my funeral is I left it better than I found it. We need to do that and come together more than ever. So please, please get this message out. Thank you.

Speaker 2: (26:06)
Thank you, Mayor.

Speaker 3: (26:06)
All right. The governor elect will stop for a few questions now.

Governor Kay Ivey: (26:06)
Kim.

Kim: (26:15)
The Governor of Arizona, Florida, and Texas, other states with climbing numbers like Alabama have issued new restrictions. Why not do that?

Governor Kay Ivey: (26:26)
Well, folks are not following the restrictions we’ve offered. I mean, we need to keep social distancing, wearing face masks, personal hygiene. We need to do the basics that we’ve been told by the medical community that we need to do. Let’s just do it. Yes, sir.

Speaker 4: (26:47)
Governor, it’s been about a month since we last heard from you speak to the people of Alabama in this setting. Since then, as you noted, the cases have increased, thousands are still without work, and the death toll has risen. Why has it been so long since the people have heard from you?

Governor Kay Ivey: (26:57)
Well, this disease goes in stages. And so-

Governor Kay Ivey: (27:03)
Well, this disease goes in stages, and so once you make an order, you need to at least wait at least two weeks to see the effect and the outcome and see where you are at the end of that time. We just had our stay-at-home order and this one lasted longer than most. And it ends Friday, so we extended it to July 31.

Speaker 5: (27:25)
Do you think if the people heard more from you in these [inaudible 00:27:29] you think they’d adhere to the warnings and the cautions that you’re offering?

Governor Kay Ivey: (27:33)
I hope everybody’s listening, and I hope everybody’s following them. I’m proud to see more face masks in this room today than I’ve seen on previous days. That’s a good sign.

Speaker 6: (27:42)
All right. We have time for a few more questions.

Governor Kay Ivey: (27:42)
Yes, sir.

Speaker 7: (27:46)
Governor, we had basically voluntary masks and voluntary social distancing now since Mid-May, and the seven day average of new cases in the state has tripled. Is it fair to think that the cases will continue to rise, and we need to be following voluntary procedures, and why [inaudible 00:28:05]?

Governor Kay Ivey: (28:04)
[inaudible 00:01:06], you want to hit me with that?

Dr. Harris: (28:09)
Sure. Be glad to. Our goal really is to try to make sure people have the information at the local level to make the best decisions they can. We certainly understand that trying to enforce new restrictions on people is an option that some other states have pursued. That’s been real challenging for us, as you know. We certainly need to have local buy-in. We need to have local support. We need people to be in favor of what we’re doing. And so we’re trying to give them more information to make it clearer to them. And hopefully they’re going to make the right decision. I think there’s, even nationally, not an appetite for a lot more restrictions being put in place. We certainly understand that that’s the thing that some folks have considered. But at this time, what we want people to do is just make the right decision and do the right thing. And we’re trying to give them the tools to make those decisions.

Speaker 6: (29:10)
All right, and a couple more questions.

Speaker 8: (29:11)
You know, Governor, we are in the middle of a crisis. Some people would argue that we have another crisis on top of this when it comes to the protests that we’ve seen across the state. It’s been almost six weeks since we’ve heard from you. Why have we not heard from you. I know you said it takes two weeks to see the effects of a stay-at-home order, but its been six weeks. Could we expect to hear from you more often?

Governor Kay Ivey: (29:35)
If you want to come, I’ll be glad to meet with you.

Speaker 6: (29:35)
All right, we’ve got time for one more question.

Speaker 9: (29:36)
Governor, I have had conversations with our group of manufacturers saying they’re struggling to get the PPE that they need, specifically when it comes to the types of hand soaps, because they are in the midst of [inaudible 00:29:36] they can’t use just any type of hand soaping equipment. And manufacturers that [inaudible 00:29:36] this equipment are now only selling to hospitals and they’re backed up against the wall. [inaudible 00:30:10]. Have you had conversations with them in regards to what they can do to get the PPE that they need to [inaudible 00:30:18]?

Dr. Harris: (30:19)
I have not personally talked to them about hand soap in particular. We’ve had many discussions around PPE. As you know, the supply chains around PPE have opened up a little bit so that the sort of traditional healthcare facilities have more access to that now, like hospitals and nursing homes, although as case numbers go up, their demand goes up too.

Dr. Harris: (30:39)
But what you’re describing is exactly what we have been concerned about. As businesses try to sort of enforce social distancing and sanitation and hygiene requirements, there’s been a demand from lots of sectors that we really haven’t seen. So we certainly are happy to try to work with people, to try to connect them with the right folks in order to get what they need. Ultimately, it’s a supply and demand problem nationally. And I think all states are trying to sort of work through this. We are in the process of trying to restock the PPE that we originally had set aside in public health. We completely exhausted every bit of personal protective equipment that we had. And so we do have thankfully access to some federal money to help us try to replenish that. But we’d be very happy to try to work with people and get them connected with the same vendors that we’re pursuing.