COVID-19

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: Sunday, March 22, 7:10 p.m.

State cases reach 157; fines possible for violations

MONTGOMERY — Law enforcement officials can issue misdemeanor citations for violating to people who violate the state health officer's orders against large public gatherings to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the state attorney general has advised agencies.

Alabama on Sunday evening had at least 157 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and the state health officer issued orders prohibiting on-site restaurant dining and non-work gatherings of more than 25 people that cannot maintain a consistent 6-foot distance between people.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Saturday issued guidance to law enforcement agencies, saying they have the authority to issue citations to people who refuse to comply with the orders, although he urged restraint in doing so.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, Jefferson County still leads all counties in reported cases. Here is a ADPH county breakdown: Baldwin (2), Calhoun (1), Chambers (2), Cullman (2), Elmore (6), Jackson (1), Jefferson (71), Lamar (1), Lauderdale (2), Lee (16), Limestone (1), Madison (16), Marion (1), Mobile (2), Montgomery (3), Shelby (17), St. Clair (3), Talladega (1), Tuscaloosa (7), Walker (1) and Washington (1).

“While the unprecedented nature of this pandemic and the government’s evolving response seem to demand some restraint related to criminal enforcement of this order, if a violator has been made aware of the state health order and the refusal to comply presents a threat to public health and safety, the penalties of (the law) are available as an enforcement tool," Marshall wrote.

The state attorney general said a person found guilty of violating an order of the State Board of Health shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, would be fined between $25 and $500.

The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

Update: Sunday, March 22, 11:15 a.m.

Publix to host senior-only shopping on Tuesday and Wednesday

Beginning Tuesday, Publix is designating Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 7 to 8 as senior shopping hours for customers age 65 and over, according to a news release from the Lakeland, Fla.-based company

This change in hours will continue until further notice. Publix Pharmacy will also open at 7 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to serve seniors.

According to the CDC, individuals over the age of 65 are at increased risk of complications from the coronavirus. Publix is offering these expanded hours to better support seniors.

Update: Sunday, March 22, 10:30 a.m.

Alabama confirmed cases rise to 138 Sunday morning

MONTGOMERY — Alabama's confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases increased to 138 Sunday morning, although the state’s leading county showed no additional positive tests overnight, according to the county breakdown from the Alabama Department of Public Health.

However, Jefferson County still leads all counties in reported cases. Here is a ADPH county breakdown: Baldwin (2), Calhoun (1), Chambers (1), Cullman (2), Elmore (6), Jackson (1), Jefferson (61), Lamar (1), Lauderdale (2), Lee (14), Limestone (1), Madison (12), Marion (1), Mobile (2), Montgomery (3), Shelby (17), St. Clair (1), Talladega (1), Tuscaloosa (7), Walker (1) and Washington (1).

Although the first confirmed case in the Wiregrass was reported in Dothan by Southeast Health and ADPH on last week, Houston County is not listed in the ADPH’s county breakdown. The update still shows no positive tests reported in the Wiregrass. 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.

No deaths linked to the new virus have been reported in Alabama.

On Saturday,state health officials also backed off a prior order that would have closed child daycare facilities statewide.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said child care facilities will be allowed to open, but must keep the number of children in any room or other enclosed space below 12.

The change followed an order Thursday that prohibited gatherings of 25 people or more and mandated closing child daycare centers, preschools, schools and senior citizen centers. Dining in restaurants and bars also was prohibited, with only takeout ordering allowed.

Health officials said the goal of slowing disease transmission is to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed.

Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday clarified that limits on public gatherings did not apply to work and workplace events.

Additionally on Saturday, the governor Ivey urged small businesses hurt by the virus outbreak to apply for disaster loans through the federal Small Business Administration. The low-interest loans offer up to $2 million to help qualifying small businesses pay bills and cover their payrolls.

Find more coverage at: https://www.dothaneagle.com/coronavirus

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