Alabama local/state Coronavirus updates (March 12)

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This is our third in a series of collective Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates from around the state. You can find the first here and the second here.

This update includes statements from Secretary of State John Merrill, the state senate, and from Auburn University and Samford We will update this post throughout the day as more notices become available.

For up to the minute and detailed information from the Alabama Department of Public Health please visit their resource center here.

For information from the Center for Disease Control that includes mitigation strategies visit their website here. Download full CDC Mitigation Strategy pdf here. Download CDC at home care guidance for those who have coronavirus but do not require hospitalization here.

As of 2:40pm central there are still no confirmed cased of coronavirus in Alabama. However, the big caveat to this is also that there has been limited testing. 

State Senate:

On Thursday the Alabama Senate approved a $5 million supplemental appropriation to the budget to combat the spread of COVID-19, commonly referred to as Coronavirus, in Alabama. 

These funds will help supplement the Federal funding which totals $8.1 million to this date. The money is for health care professionals to use as they see fit to stop the spread of the disease in Alabama including helping set up local centers for testing, covering expenses related to telehealth and covering the costs for the uninsured for testing and treatment. 

Currently there have been no positive tests for Coronavirus in Alabama, however after meeting with professionals in the healthcare industry and public health officials, legislative leadership determined it was important to be proactive and work to get the situation under control should any tests in Alabama come back positive for the disease. 

Both Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) emphasized that if someone is not feeling well, they should contact their physician to administer next steps and determine if further testing is necessary. 

“I want to thank Governor Ivey and her team for taking this issue head on. One of the biggest problems we have seen from this disease is simply a lack of preparation,” Marsh said. “It is important for everybody to know that Alabama has a solid plan to combat Coronavirus. I cannot stress enough that if someone feels as though they need to be tested for Coronavirus they should contact their doctor to work through the next steps.” 

“Over the past several days legislative leadership has held a series of meetings with the Governor and her Coronavirus Task Force, as well as with health care professionals who are on the front lines of combating this pandemic,” Reed said. “It is important to know that we have test kits and tests are being administered and we have excellent health care professionals who are prepared to act. One important thing to note is that we are setting up the ability to contact doctors with telehealth so that next steps can be decided over the phone or video chat to limit the potential of exposure to this illness,” Reed said.   

“In response to the pandemic that has been going around the nation and the world, this supplementary spending bill is a way for the State of Alabama to be proactive and show our citizens that we are serious about fighting the spread of the coronavirus,” said Alabama Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro). “Although we have not had a positive test in the state, we understand that this highly contagious virus could be potentially deadly for those with compromised immune systems. Therefore, we are moving forward in setting up crisis centers to protect our citizens.”

Auburn University statement

Auburn University will transition from on-campus instruction to remote delivery beginning Monday, March 16 and continue through April 10 in response to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

University officials ask that students refrain from returning to campus after spring break. University officials will subsequently determine if students will return to campus for the remaining weeks of the spring semester. Auburn faculty will contact students on steps they should take to continue their academic coursework.

The university will continue normal operations, although departments and units should utilize remote work and “social distancing” as appropriate.

“The Auburn Family faces many unknowns about this virus,” said Auburn University President Jay Gogue. “We are taking these unprecedented steps based on our utmost concern for the health and well-being of Auburn students, faculty and staff. In the meantime, we continue working with public health and emergency preparedness officials to make decisions in the best interest of the campus community and to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Other university actions:

  • All university events, including sporting events, are canceled through April 10, ensuring appropriate “social distancing” and helping prevent the potential spread of the virus.

  • All university domestic and international travel is suspended through April 10.

  • Dining facilities, libraries and residence halls will be closed through April 10. University officials will make arrangements for international students and others who are unable to return home. Students who have specific questions should contact the Division of Student Affairs. 

  • Decisions have not yet been made on spring commencement, summer study abroad programs or other events and activities beyond April 10.

  • The university medical clinic remains open. Those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should immediately call the Auburn Medical Clinic at 334-844-9825 before visiting the clinic. 

  • University officials will make arrangements for students who do not have access to the technology needed for remote instruction. 

Students who live on campus and believe it necessary to return to campus to collect personal items should first contact the Office of University Housing at housing@auburn.edu.

John Merrill, Secretary of State:

Our plan for changes in the elections process, if necessary, will be revealed at the appropriate time. Our intentions are to ensure a safe and secure election and provide accountable results in a manner that is transparent to the people of our state. We will continue to do so as we have consistently done in the past.

Samford University March 12, 2020 email update:

Although there are currently no confirmed cases in Alabama, Samford is making significant operational changes to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for students, faculty and staff. These decisions are heavily influenced by the knowledge that our people have travelled to diverse locations during Spring Break where incidents of COVID-19 are known to exist. We believe the measures taken by Samford were inevitable given the rapidly evolving circumstances. As disruptive as this is, the disruption would have been greater had we delayed until everyone returned to campus next week.  

Yesterday I shared with you that all university courses will temporarily move to online delivery beginning Monday, March 16. Students will hear directly from faculty regarding instructions for online classes. Students with internships or clinical requirements should contact their faculty advisors for guidance.

Students presently off-campus for Spring Break may NOT return to campus until in person classroom instruction resumes. Residential students needing books, laptops and other essential items from campus can retrieve those items between now and 5:00 p.m. on March 16. Students may claim their items and then promptly leave campus.

We recognize that in limited circumstances, some students will be unable to return home. Students who have a significant hardship can request to stay on campus using the ResLife form that will be available on the ResLife websitelater today. Requests must be made by noon on Saturday, March 14.  Student athletes will receive information directly from the Athletics Department.

Students and employees who have travelled or choose to travel domestically to an area with active mitigation strategies as defined by the CDC or who travel internationally to a CDC level 2 or 3 risk for COVID-19 cannot come to campus for any reason until they have completed 14 days of self-quarantine. This includes Spring Break travel. As of today, domestic locations with active mitigation strategies include New Rochelle, NY; Seattle, WA and Santa Clara, CA. If you have traveled to any of these destinations you must e-mail COVID19info@samford.edu to make arrangements for continuation of study or work responsibilities.

If you exhibit symptoms consistent with COVID-19, promptly contact your personal health care provider and explain that you are in self-monitoring. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 at any time, you should notify the university at COVID19info@samford.edu.

Faculty and staff are to report to work as usual on Monday, March 16. If you have questions about your schedule or work arrangements, contact your supervisor.

Until March 16, all scheduled events presented by the university and outside entities will go forward as planned. Campus events between March 16 and April 6 are either postponed or cancelled. The Office of Events Management will contact event hosts with additional details. Spectators at Samford hosted athletics events will be limited.

All university-sponsored international travel departing in spring 2020 semester is canceled. All domestic university-related travel, including previously approved travel, is suspended for the remainder of the spring semester. Exceptions must be approved by a vice president. If you are planning university-related travel after the spring semester, vice president approval is required until further notice.

The Samford community is encouraged to continue practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizer, cleaning or disinfecting high-touch surfaces and staying home if you are sick.

Please visit the Samford coronavirus website for additional information. Throughout the day today we will be adding answers to many of your frequently asked questions. This is a rapidly evolving situation and we appreciate your patience. 

The University of Alabama has set up a website of updated information.