Committee on pandemic response delays meeting due to COVID concerns

Committee on pandemic response delays meeting due to COVID concerns

By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A meeting of the joint legislative committee analyzing how the state responded to the COVID-19 pandemic has been delayed over concerns of rising case numbers.

The in-person meeting was originally scheduled for today, but committee co-chair Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, told Alabama Daily News it was delayed until Aug. 25.

“It seemed questionable to have an elective meeting take place while the state is under a state of emergency and seeing what’s happening with COVID right now,” Melson said on Monday.

Melson said he is looking at ways to hold the next meeting over Zoom instead of in-person.

Gov. Kay Ivey issued a limited state of emergency order on Friday that primarily is aimed at giving medical providers flexibility on staffing and capacity decisions and easier shipment of emergency equipment and supplies.The order does not include any new closures or mask mandates.

New COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been rising rapidly in the last month as the highly transmissible delta variant is causing high community spread throughout the state.

The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 2,931 hospitalizations as of Monday, which is nearing the state’s all-time high of  3,084 in January.

By Monday afternoon, the Alabama Hospital Association was reporting that there were almost zero available critical care units in Alabama, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

The joint-legislative committee was formed  earlier this year and includes several state agency heads and various lawmakers.

At their first meeting, the committee said their goal is to examine how different state agencies responded to the first 15 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost and benefits of those actions and how they compared to other states’ actions.