State monitors virus numbers after stay-home order lifted

State monitors virus numbers after stay-home order lifted

By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Health officials are watching to see if the state has any upswing in coronavirus activity after the state lifted a stay-home order last week, State Health Officer Scott Harris said Monday.

Harris said right now it is unclear “what direction” the state is headed. He said by around May 10, the state should hopefully be able to judge if there is any rebound of virus activity.

He said they are currently trying to determine if the percentage of daily positive tests is going down— one of the metrics suggested by the White House before reopening. Harris said the state previously had difficulty making that calculation because not all private laboratories submitted all negative test results to the state. Harris said they just recently got those numbers. Alabama, which has a population of about 4.9 million, has had a little over 100,000 tests done for COVID-19.

“We jumped over 10,000 tests over the weekend. A lot of those were just reports of negatives that had already been previously done,” Harris said.

Alabama on Monday reported 800 new cases of COVID-19 over a three-day period, bringing the total to more than 8,000 and nearly 300 deaths from the disease, according to numbers from the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday lifted a stay-home order and allowed retail stores and beaches to open with distancing requirements and for non-emergency medical procedures to resume. Hair salons, on-site restaurant dining, gyms and other places will remain closed through May 15, under the new order.

Harris said they are monitoring to see if restrictions can be further loosened before May 15, but right now they don’t have the data to make a recommendation.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham and UAB Medicine announced that it is furloughing more than 300 employees and cutting employee pay because of financial losses during the pandemic.

“UAB is experiencing the harsh financial realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, as are institutions of higher education and health care worldwide,” the university said in a statement.

The university said that 325 university staff who are unable to work remotely will be furloughed between May 10 through July 31. The employees will retain their health insurance.

Employees will also see pay reductions. The reductions range from 3% for employees making between $31,200 and $50,000 to 7% for employees making over $200,000. Department chairs and senior leaders will see a 10 % reduction and top administrators will see a 15% reduction.