HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - As the consequences of the global coronavirus pandemic worsen for Alabama, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said he’s taking guidance from state and federal health officials on tougher restrictions.
March 24, Birmingham issued a “shelter in place” order. It closed all nonessential businesses, but the city does allow people to leave their homes for exercise and essentials.
March 25, the Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed the first Alabama coronavirus death, a courthouse worker in Jackson County.
March 26, Madison County EMA Director Jeff Birdwell said the ADPH is investigating a potential coronavirus death in the county.
The same day, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth questioned whether Alabama was ready for a “tsunami” of coronvirus patients in a memo to the Alabama COVID-19 Task Force.
He estimates there will be 245,499 coronavirus patients in Alabama by May 1.
On March 26’s daily Madison County Coronavirus press conference, Battle did not commit to a “shelter in place” order.
“We’ll keep monitoring. We’re going to follow the CDC guidelines, we’re going to follow the Alabama Department of Public Health, we’ll do everything that we do, we’ll do in conjunction with both the Alabama Department of Public Health, the CDC and our local health organizations. We talk on a daily basis and we’ll continue to monitor,” he said.
He did not elaborate on how the city would determine what circumstances would bring out a “shelter in place” order.
Huntsville City Attorney Trey Riley said Huntsville’s emergency declaration does not specifically give Battle the power to unilaterally announce a shelter in place order.
Gov. Kay Ivey said in an address Thursday now is not the time for a state-wide shelter in place order.
“We are not Louisiana, we’re not New York State, we’re not California, and right now is not the time to order people to shelter in place," she said.
“We’ve got to have our businesses operating to provide the materials that our teachers need, that our medical professionals need, we’ve got to have food provided, and we’ve got to have all the materials that are needed to keep Alabamians working as much as we can.”
As of this publication, 21 states have issued a shelter in place order.