11 coronavius.jpg

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

This a running update compiled by the Dothan Eagle concerning news and advisories related to the coronavirus locally, nationally and worldwide.

Update: Monday, March 16, 9:05 p.m.

MONTGOMERY — Bidding to stop the new coronavirus, public health officials in Alabama's largest county ordered restaurants to switch to take-out service only and ordered child care centers closed and nursing home visits restricted.

Jefferson County Health Officer Mark Wilson announced the orders Monday. Seventeen of the 29 confirmed virus cases in Alabama have been detected in Jefferson County, which includes the city of Birmingham.

Wilson said the orders are for: childcare centers, preschools and private school centers with 12 or more students to close from Thursday until April 6; restaurants beginning Tuesday should not have on-site dining for one week but delivery and take-out can continue; the closure of senior citizen center activities; and for nursing homes to restrict visitation except for compassionate situations such as end of life. The order also prohibits public gatherings with more than 25 people.

Wilson said the orders can be enforced through court action if needed.

Hospitals in Montgomery and Tuscaloosa announced the opening of new testing sites.

The Alabama Department of Labor said Monday that people who miss work because they are quarantined, laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period because of the coronavirus can apply for unemployment benefits.

East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika announced a hospital employee had tested positive for that virus and was being quarantined at home. The employee had not traveled outside Lee County.

In addition to Jefferson (17) and Lee (1) counties, the ADPH website on Monday night noted confirmed cases in the following counties, Baldwin (1), Elmore (1), Limestone (1), Montgomery (2), Shelby (3) and Tuscaloosa (3).

From The Associated Press

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Update: Monday, March 16, 4:35 p.m.

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Department of Public Health on Monday urged people to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people, unless they can maintain a 6-foot distance between others, to limit spread of the new coronavirus.

The advice follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, State Health Officer Scott Harris said.

Harris said restaurants are urged to keep a 6-foot (2-meter) distance between tables and limit admittance to 50 percent of capacity. Harris said people attending weddings and funerals should also try to maintain 6-foot (2-meter) distance. He said workplaces may not be able to maintain the distances but should try whenever possible.

Senior citizens, and those with health problems, should be more careful, Harris said. Senior adults or those with chronic health problems should avoid gatherings, outside of close family, of 10 or more people, and should avoid travel by air, train or bus, the state health department said.

“I think if we all cooperate, if we all manage to do this then we will have a little bit of time where we are inconvenienced and uncomfortable but I know we will come out OK on the other side," Harris said.

Alabama now has 28 confirmed virus cases as of Monday, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Seventeen of the cases were found in Jefferson County. Harris said that is not surprising that Jefferson County has the highest reported number because that is the state's largest county and also has more testing sites.

Hospitals in Montgomery and Tuscaloosa announced the opening of new testing sites.

Harris said there is no reason for a person to seek a test unless they have symptoms.

Update: Monday, March 16, 4:15 p.m.

The City of Ozark has announced the following changes in city operations in response to evolving COVID-19 pandemic:

>> The March 17 Ozark City Council meeting has been cancelled.

>> All Spring Ozark Leisure Service sports activities are postponed effective Wednesday, March 18.

>> The 100 AL Miles Team has postponed the 2020 season kickoff event scheduled for March 28 at Ed Lisenby Lake. The event has been rescheduled for April 11.

>>The Vietnam Veterans Wall dedication scheduled for March 27 is postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.

>> All in-person judicial proceedings and appearances in Alabama are suspended for the next 30 days, according to an order by the state Supreme Court. This applies to Ozark Municipal Court as well.

>>The Crawdad Festival remains scheduled for April 4. We have until March 30 to cancel as that is the last day the crawfish can be ordered, said Ozark Mayor Bob Bunting.

If additional cancellations are necessary, notices will be posted on the city’s Everything Ozark Facebook page, Bunting added.

City departments will be monitoring employees with temporal digital thermometers. City workers who have a fever should not come to work.

Update: Monday, March 16, 4 p.m.

Recreation centers in Dothan have been shut down until May 9 to be consistent with the Center for Disease control guidelines. However, this period will constantly be evaluated as to whether it can be made shorter or will need to be longer, according to a release by the Dothan Department of Leisure Services.

In addition, the Westgate Softball Complex, Westgate Tennis Center and James Oates complexes will be closed.

Certain outdoor facilities will remain available for casual use with no group activities allowed: Eastgate Dog Friendly Park, Westgate Trail, Forever Wild Trails, Disc Golf Course at Eastgate, Archery Range at Eastgate, Eastgate Trail, James Oates Trail and all neighborhood parks.

Update: Monday, March 16, 2:30 p.m.

The Wiregrass Museum of Art will temporarily close to the public effective Tuesday, March 17, at 5 p.m. to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

The museum plans to assess the ongoing situation daily and will share updates as they become available, including plans to reopen after April 4.

For full details about changes, visit the museum's website at www.wiregrassmuseum.org.

Update: Monday, March 16, 1:12 p.m.

The following closings and cancellations related to COVID-19 have been recently announced:

Schools announce closures

Dothan City Schools will close as of the end of the school day on Monday, March 16.

The closure starting Monday afternoon and continuing Tuesday and Wednesday is in addition to the Alabama State Department of Education’s directive to close all Alabama K-12 schools from March 19 until April 6. The changes are due to new guidance in social distancing and dropped attendance for Monday, March 16, according to a news release from Dothan City Schools.

Teachers and staff are expected to report to work on Tuesday, March 17, however.

The school system’s child nutrition program will provide lunch and snack meals during the closures via the USDA Summer Food Service Program. Meals will be served in a curb-side method at six locations throughout the district beginning Wednesday, March 18, and continuing through Friday, March 20. With March 23-27 as the system’s scheduled spring break, the meal service will resume March 30-April 3.

Meals can be picked up between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the following pick-up sites:

- Beverlye Intermediate School

- Dothan City Schools Head Start

- Jerry Lee Faine Elementary School

- Kelly Springs Elementary School

- Morris Slingluff Elementary School

- Selma Street Elementary School

Prior to April 6, the school system will consult with the Alabama State Department of Education to determine if continued closures will be needed and will provide necessary updates.

Additional information and resources can be found on Dothan City School’s website at Dothan.k12.al.us/covid19.

Houston County Schools will close today, March 16, at 3 p.m. until April 6. All athletic events have been canceled as of 3 p.m. today. Updates will follow as needed. The Pre-K random selection drawing scheduled for March will be held as planned with the exception of public attendance.

Dothan-Houston County library branches closed

Due to concerns over COVID-19, all branches of the Dothan Houston County Library System will be closed as of Monday, March 16, until further notice.

All items due between March 16 and April 6 will now be due on April 7.

The library system is suspending book and physical donations from the public at this time. The system will make a public announcement when donations will be accepted again.

Alabama VA restricts public access

The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) will temporarily restrict public access to the state’s county veteran service offices from March 16 to April 6 as a precautionary measure to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The ADVA will continue operating the county veteran service offices with essential staff to provide ongoing services to veterans, their family members and caregivers. The county offices will offer services via telephone, facsimile and other means of communication such as email and texting.

On Friday, the ADVA announced a change to its visitation policy at the state’s four veterans homes, which temporarily restricts routine visitations to medically-necessary visits by outside healthcare personnel and/or visits by family members to terminally ill residents in their final days. Routine visits by non-employees, to include work conducted by volunteers, have been temporarily suspended at the homes.

ADVA Commissioner Kent Davis said the department’s policy for restricted visitation at the state’s veterans homes and preventive measures taken by the county veteran service offices is in the best interest of the public’s health and well-being.

More information about ADVA’s response to the COVID-19 crisis is posted to the department’s website at www.va.alabama.gov.

More cancellations

The African Children’s Choir concert scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, at Ozark Baptist Church has been canceled. The choir and their hosts, the Music for Life organization, have canceled the all stops on the current concert tour until April 22 at which time they plan to resume the tour in Tifton, Georgia.

A community medical marijuana event planned for March 19 at the Wiregrass Public Safety Center has been postponed until further notice. The event, hosted by the 334 Prevention Project, was to focus on Alabama’s medical cannabis bill.

The Betty Brown Memorial Golf Tournament planned for April 23 at the Fox Ridge Golf Course in Ozark has been postponed until further notice. The tournament is to benefit the new building project for the Ozark-Dale County Library.

Daleville Church of Christ services are canceled through March 22. Services are scheduled to resume on March 29.

Disabled American Veterans Wiregrass Chapter 99 will delay its March 26 chapter meeting at the New Brockton Senior Center until further notice. The chapter’s commander, Mary Adams, is also postponing face-to-face veterans service work with the chapter’s certified service officer for VA claims assistance. The chapter hopes to resume services and chapter meetings by April 2. For more information, call 334-243-0004 or 334-406-6700.

The Southeast Alabama Community Band Concert scheduled for March 23 at Elba High School has been canceled.

The Dothan/Houston County Education Retirees meeting that was to be held on Thursday, March 19, has been canceled. The state office in Montgomery felt that this is a cautionary measure meant to protect retirees and there will be no make-up date for the meeting.

In light of the CDC’s recommendation to cancel gatherings of 50 or more, the Ozark City Council meeting for March 17 has been canceled.

The youth musical “School House Rock Jr. – Live!” to be presented by Hoobler Music in Enterprise has been postponed until the end of April.

The Dothan Area Young Professional’s Business Brews event scheduled at The Cellar on Thursday, March 26, has been postponed until April.

Update: Monday, March 16, 11:45 a.m.

The Houston County Sheriff’s Office has canceled all jail visitations until further notice.

“Cancelling jail visitation is a must at this time,” Houston County Sheriff Donald Valenza said. “We have to be cautious in allowing visitors inside the jail. We can’t determine who may or may not have come in contact with someone with the virus, and we don’t need any employees or any inmates to come in contact with anyone who may have the virus or be a carrier of the virus.”

Update: Monday, March 16, 11:40 a.m.

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Department of Public Health on Monday urged people to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people, unless they can maintain a 6-foot distance between others, to limit spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

The advice follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, State Health Officer Scott Harris said.

Harris said restaurants are urged to keep a 6-foot (2-meter) distance between tables and limit admittance to 50 percent of capacity. Harris said people attending weddings and funerals should also try to maintain 6-foot (2-meter) distance. He said workplaces may not be able to maintain the distances but should try whenever possible.

Senior citizens, and those with health problems, should be more careful, Harris said. Senior adults or those with chronic health problems should avoid gatherings, outside of close family, of 10 or more people, and should avoid travel by air, train or bus, the state health department said.

“I think if we all cooperate, if we all manage to do this then we will have a little bit of time where we are inconvenienced and uncomfortable but I know we will come out OK on the other side," Harris said.

Alabama now has 22 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Monday morning, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Twelve of the cases were found in Jefferson County. Harris said that is not surprising because that is the state's largest county and also has more testing sites.

Harris said there is no reason for a person to seek a test unless they have symptoms.

Update: Monday, March 16, 9:05 a.m.

MONTGOMERY — Alabama's governor is giving state agencies permission to allow their employees to work from home.

Employees should plan to return to regular work schedules on April 6, Gov. Kay Ivey said on Twitter Sunday.

Alabama now has 22 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Sunday night, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. 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 from the new virus. People with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover, according to the World Health Organization.

Alabama reported its first confirmed case of the virus on Friday, although public health officials cautioned that virus was already circulating in the state. Twelve of the confirmed cases are in Jefferson County.

Update: Monday, March 16, 8:40 a.m.

Figures from the Alabama Department of Public Health listed 22 confirmed cases on Sunday evening, including 12 in Jefferson County, three in Tuscaloosa County, two in Shelby County, and one each in Baldwin, Elmore, Lee, Limestone and Montgomery counties.

No deaths from the disease have been reported in Alabama.

The new human coronavirus type emerged in China in December 2019. According to ADPH, patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath appearing anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure.

On Sunday, officials across the country curtailed many elements of American life to fight the coronavirus outbreak, with health officials recommending that groups of 50 or more not get together and a government expert saying a 14-day national shutdown may be needed.

Check back for updates.

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