This a running update compiled by the Dothan Eagle concerning news and advisories related to the coronavirus focusing on the local, state, regional and national level.
Update: Friday, March 20, 6 p.m
Alabama now reports 106 positive COVID-19 cases
MONTGOMERY — Alabama's total number of confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases has increased to 106 as of Friday evening, according to the county breakdown posted on the Alabama Department of Public Health’s website.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, Jefferson County still leads all counties in reported cases. Here is a county breakdown from ADPH: Baldwin (2), Calhoun (1), Chambers (1), Cullman (1), Elmore (6), Jackson (1), Jefferson (50), Lamar (1), Lauderdale (1), Lee (11), Limestone (1), Madison (7), Mobile (2), Montgomery (3), Shelby (10), St. Clair (1), Talladega (1), Tuscaloosa (4), Walker (1) and Washington (1).
Although the first confirmed case in the Wiregrass was reported in Dothan by Southeast Health and ADPH on Wednesday, Houston County is not listed in the ADPH’s county breakdown. The update still shows no positive tests reported in the Wiregrass area. Houston County's confirmed case is an out-of-state resident, and ADPH does not lists positive tests that do not originate in the county.
Alabama reported additional cases of the new coronavirus Friday as another state vehicle factory prepared to shut down and the governor's office clarified rules meant to limit contact between people.
Almost half the cases are around Birmingham in heavily populated Jefferson County. Only one case has been reported in Mobile County, where more than 400,000 people live, and officials are trying to get more tests there.
Mercedes-Benz announced its factory in Tuscaloosa County and another in South Carolina would suspend production beginning Monday. Some 3,800 people work at the German automaker's plant and thousands work for surrounding suppliers.
Honda previously said it would temporarily close its assembly plant in Talladega County, and Hyundai shuttered its factory south of Montgomery after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus.
Following confusion over an order aimed at limiting large gatherings of people, Gov. Kay Ivey said a rule prohibiting groups of 25 people or more applied only to events not related to work.
“I fully support the restrictions of social or recreational gatherings of 25 people or less and strongly encourage individuals to maintain a 6-foot distance. However, this order was intended to apply to non-work-related gatherings,” she said in a statement.
The confusion stemmed from an order Thursday that also required all child day care centers, preschools, schools and senior citizen centers to close. Dining in restaurants and bars also was prohibited, with only takeout ordering allowed.
With more people out of work, utilities including Alabama Power Co., the state's largest supplier of electricity, have announced they would suspend service disconnections for customers who can't pay bills, and Alabama-based Regions Bank said it would waive numerous fees and penalties during the crunch.
Update: Friday, March 20, 10 a.m.
Alabama now reports 81 positive COVID-19 cases
MONTGOMERY — Alabama's total number of confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases has increased to 81 as of Friday morning, according to the county breakdown posted on the Alabama Department of Public Health’s website.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, Jefferson County still leads all counties in reported cases. Here is a county breakdown from ADPH: Baldwin (1), Calhoun (1), Chambers (1), Elmore (5), Lee (10), Jefferson (36), Limestone (1), Madison (5), Mobile (1), Montgomery (3), Shelby (10), St. Clair (1), Talladega (1), and Tuscaloosa (4) and Walker (1).
Although the first confirmed case in the Wiregrass was reported in Dothan by Southeast Health and ADPH on Wednesday, Houston County is not listed in the ADPH’s county breakdown. The update lists no positive tests reported in the Wiregrass area. Houston County's confirmed case is an out-of-state resident, and ADPH does not lists positive tests that do not originate in the county.
Alabama on Thursday ordered the closure of day cares, beaches and on-site dining in restaurants as the state tries to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
The sweeping measure expands restrictions that had been in place for six counties surrounding Birmingham to all 67 counties in the state, and closes state beaches during the busy spring break season.
“We fully acknowledge that we are imposing hardship on people," state Health Officer Scott Harris said at a news conference. “Please take this seriously. This virus is serious and can kill. It is particularly deadly for our seniors and those people who have chronic health problems," Harris said.
The statewide order requires:
— All preschools, child care centers and private schools to close beginning Thursday. Alabama had already closed public K-12 schools until April 6. There are exceptions for day cares that exclusively serve hospitals and first responders.
— All beaches in the state, whether private or public, closed at 5 p.m. Thursday.
— All restaurants and bars to end on-site dining, although takeout and delivery may continue.
— All gatherings of 25 people or more, or gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent 6-foot distance between people, are prohibited. That may not apply to employers, such as factories. The governor said she was working to clarify the impact on employers. The Department of Public Health said it would provide additional information Friday.
— All nursing homes and hospitals will restrict visitation.
— All elective dental and medical procedures shall be delayed, effective immediately.
The order lasts through April 5.
Update: Thursday, March 19, 5:30 p.m.
Jackson County reports positive COVID-19 case
MARIANNA – The Jackson County Health Department in Florida announced on Thursday a positive case of 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Jackson County. The individual is a 33-year-old male with a domestic and international travel history. He sought medical care, is isolated and will continue to remain isolated until cleared by public health officials.
“We are working closely with the patient, close contacts and healthcare providers to determine what additional COVID-19 testing may be required,” said Jackson County Health Officer Sandy Martin. “We are also coordinating with local and state officials to ensure proper precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of the virus. I want to stress that social distancing is key to protect those who are most at risk – individuals age 65 and older and those with underlying medical conditions.”