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Alabama congressional delegation sends reopening suggestions to Ivey

MONTGOMERY — Several members of Alabama’s congressional delegation sent recommendations to Gov. Kay Ivey this week on how to gradually reopen the state’s economy.

Ivey requested the input last week.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, is the only member to suggest the state’s current stay-at-home order be immediately rescinded without a replacement plan in place.

“Every delay day is a nail in the coffin of otherwise income and job-producing enterprises,” Brooks’ report said. “At some point, the job creating business is dead, forever, to the detriment of all of Alabama.”

But most of the others’ recommendations agree that before reopening, a 14-day downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases needs to be shown first.

Each representative’s report consisted of input from business owners, state lawmakers, medical health officials and community leaders.

Reps. Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile, and Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, recommend reopening parts of the economy with a start date of May 1.

Reps. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, Gary Palmer, R-Birmingham, and Mike Rogers, R-Saks, also submitted reports.

In his report, Byrne says Alabama’s COVID-19 case growth rate has fallen in the past five days compared to the growth rate seen from April 1-15. This declining rate and other data points are what lead Byrne to support opening up certain businesses by May 1.

No matter what Ivey’s reopening plan ends up being, the members emphasized the need for clear guidance and instruction from the state so as to avoid further confusion for business owners and inspire confidence in consumers.

All of the reports say business leaders need more reassurance that a steady supply of personal protective equipment, or PPE, will be given when necessary and that more testing needs to be happening all over the state.

State Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and Ivey expressed concern Tuesday that not enough testing had been done at this point, but they do expect more texting being completed in coming weeks.

The Alabama Department of Public Health reports that about 48,000 tests have been conducted in Alabama, a state with a population of 4.9 million. That number does not include private lab testing that isn’t being reported to the state.

Each recommendation states the importance of protecting employees who are allowed to come back to work in this first phase of reopening.

Each report also stated the importance of keeping distancing and sanitation measures when the stay-at-home order is lifted.

“Even as we begin talking about reopening portions of the economy, that does not mean we can relax the necessary distancing and hygiene requirements like wearing a cloth mask in public and washing our hands thoroughly,” Byrne said in a press release.

Ivey on Tuesday said she intended to keep the stay-at-home order in place until its expiration on April 30 and will announce her intentions on how to reopen by next week.

“No one wants to open up businesses more than I do,” Ivey said. “All of our decisions that I’m going to make are going to come from data, not a desired date.”

As of Thursday at noon, Alabama has over 5,703 confirmed cases and 197 deaths resulting from COVID-19.

Most of the reopening recommendations also follow guidance from President Donald Trump’s released “Opening Up America Again Guidelines.”

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