Alabama COVID-19 Update 6-10 – with Governor Kay Ivey
[note form, please excuse typographical errors]
Governor Kay Ivey
- There will be no special session prior to August because budget numbers will not be in until 15 July 2020.
- All options are on the table on whether or not there will be a special session. Before calling a special session, Gov. Ivey will work with the bipartisan legislature to ensure a plan is in place to maximize time in Montgomery and provide transparency to the public, and address legitimate issues that cannot wait until February 2021. (no surprises for anyone)
- Issues regarding monuments, names on buildings, etc. – Following the death of George Floyd, Governor Ivey sent out a statement on 1 June, “Like so many others throughout the country and world, I, too, was shocked by the senseless and tragic death of George Floyd…. it should have never happened. I agree with Alabama native Congressman John Lewis 'Rioting and burning is not the way.'” *plans to re-send full statement to legislature
- Has personally reached out to mayors of Alabama’s 10 largest cities as well as several small towns. And continues to watch news as to how local governments are responding
- Part of the reason Governor Ivey has not discussed prior to this is because she did not want to score "political bonus points " / In January 2020, Senator Figures, Representative Daniels, and more helped assemble a meeting with 65 African American leaders from multiple states – first meeting of Alabama United – 58 showed up at the Blount House – during the conversation, the group began to discuss issues with minorities that affect African American Alabamians – have been encouraged and inspired by Alabama United – had no idea we would have a national discussion on race relations, truly believe the group is working on potential solutions to the time-sensitive issues today. Ivey Administration will be reaching out to both parties in the coming weeks as we work to find common ground.
Dr. Scott Harris – Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH)
- 21,600 confirmed cases
- 3-month mark since first case reported
- unfortunately more than 25% have occurred within the past 2 weeks (some can be reflected in increase of testing) – based on positive tests turned in, still high numbers
- 3 hospitals in Montgomery (including Prattville) reported more inpatients than they ever had
- additional hotspots: Morgan County poultry plant in Decatur – hospital has more than 30 cases either confirmed or under investigation
- As we approach 4 July, legislators need to get message out to be safe at this time. Many communities are planning celebrations. Communities need to do so in a safe manner with large groups. – wear masks, use hand sanitation, older population and vulnerable populations should pass up big crowds
- 739 deaths in AL in past three months, around ½ in nursing homes, more than 40% have occurred in African American population
Finance Director Kelly Butler
- Coronavirus relief fund monies from federal government (administration of) – Alabama has implemented guidance and has reimbursed aspects of SB161 – sent notification to cities and counties on 28 May that they can begin to claim reimbursements, some have sent in, others on the way in – several conference calls and Zoom meetings with different groups to determine what can and cannot be reimbursed
- 3 June communication with government agencies that they can be reimbursed - $300MM state government, __(?) M telework for state agencies, $200M corrections buckets, $10MM allocated to the courts
- work now is concentrated on business/nonprofit/faith-based bucket of $300MM, working with ADOR to establish small business grant program modeled from programs in other states on businesses that have been affected by COVID-19, fill out a one-page form – eligible for a grant in the amount to $25K on business interruption costs by COVID-19 – open to small businesses without employees and sole proprietors, cannot receive more than $5MM in annual revenue, limited to $100MM
Commissioner Jeff Dunn – Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC)
- 3 areas to update today: 1. update on COVID-19 in prison system, 2. talk about efforts to resume a new operational environment to transition to more steady state environment within COVID-19 3. update on Alabama prison program to revitalize infrastructure
- As of yesterday at 3:40PM, approx. 75 staff or contractors with COVID, 27 cleared to return to duty
- There are COVID-positives in several facilities, paying most attention to Tutwiler (staff), ___ correctional facility, state medical facilities that serve Elmore and Frank Lee Community Based Facility/Community Work Center – within last 48 hours, several healthcare providers have tested positive, working on an augmentation plan to provide emergency, critical, and essential services for inmates out of that location
- 27 positive inmates, 18 of which are active
- reviewing CDC guidelines for inmates, on telephone weekly for updates with counterparts around the country to share information about how to best address
- providing medical testing for procedures to ensure they do not go to the hospital with a positive COVID-19 test
- transition to new operational environment: recognize we will not be “normal” any time soon but we have to get to a point where we can operate services within the prison system – that process and protocols will be conditions-based, not time-based (evaluate on case-by-case basis and ability to deliver medical and mental health services as they open facilities).
- Stringent requirements (deep cleanings, hand sanitizer, temperature checks, etc.)
- It is near impossible to social distance with the overcrowded conditions.
- in-house educational services have resumed and are monitored under new programs, including vocational education, visitation, and religious services
- It will take ADOC time to adjust based on conditions within facilities.
- infrastructure – have received proposals from developer teams, put ADOC in to 2-part process – technical and financial aspects of proposals / technical evaluation completed – all proposals met or exceeded technical, now evaluating the financials
- Goal: offer opportunity to negotiate contracts for facilities by late-summer
- working to obtain the body camera grant from the DOJ indicated – for canine teams, will test with correctional supervisors in the fall
- working with Ingram State Technical College (ITSC) to provide educational services through electronic means – portable electronic devices for GED work, etc.
- All information available on ADOC website updated daily
- House Majority Leader Nathanial Ledbetter question for Commissioner Dunn: alluded to financial evaluation-based – what are you looking for? / Answer: ADOC asked developer teams to bid on the technical specifications and financial cost because this is a lease arrangement to provide costs, financial modeling, ability to obtain finances needed for the project – will be evaluating the project at the quality required within the affordability level
- Representative Matt Simpson question to Comm. Dunn: Why are the inmates on probation revocation not getting credit/ Local jails are not sending ADOC. People can be sitting in jail for 45 days and not waiting until they get to ADOC to receive credit / Comm. Dunn response: procedurally under normal conditions the clock would not start until ADOC. However, ADOC provided mechanism to which counties can release probationary dumps from their custody and not send to ADOC. Governor Ivey announced earlier in the COVID-19 crisis. / Nathanial Ledbetter: can you send back out to us? Would like legislature to have (Yes – will send)
Secretary Fitzgerald Washington - Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL)
- US unemployment down approx. 1% (approx. 14% to 13%), hopefully a sign to road to prosperity again
- 12.9% Alabama unemployment rate
- 1.9M working, down 273,000 over the course of the year
- Proud of staff’s work on countless hours to how people get paid and eligibility questions from employers and employees / diligently clarifying
- $1.5MM paid out for unemployment claims, over 300,000 claims made
- $34MM PUA for self-employed
- To date, ADOL has responded to 92% of COVID-19-related claims
- Once applicants file their initial claims, if entered correctly, will be processed within 15 minutes. if entered incorrectly, will force the claimant to be initially denied –80% the vast majority of delays are due to the following – incorrect information on application (SSN, misspellings, incorrect routing numbers, etc.)
- Some employees have not been truthful when filing, knowing it will be financially beneficial to quit and get government aid. In these cases, ADOL has to give employers time to respond (due process)
- All claimants need to file weekly certifications. Some people get benefits one week but do not file the weekly requirements. More than 36,000 claims filed as of last week had to call back last week to get issues resolved. Now claimants getting direct messages to re-certify weekly.
- As a reminder, direct deposit is the fastest way to receive benefit. ADOL issued debit cards take an additional 5-7 days to process.
- On alert for fraud and theft of personal information / two metro jail inmates were trying to use a false identity to get unemployment benefits for drugs and cigarettes
- Continuing to find ways to improve claims, hired call centers, expanded hours. Brought back retired employees to help communicate the process, hired a firm to develop user-friendly ways to use tools available on website – labor.alabama.gov
- Currently this is mind-boggling – over 200,000 calls per day(!) with only 400 to answer the calls
- Thank you to Stephen Reed in Montgomery and ASU President Quintin Ross for ADOL to set up at Cramton Bowl and ASU stadium
Dr. Mackey – Alabama State Dept. of Education (ALSDE)
- As of 1 June, public schools, private school, colleges, etc. can reopen
- Many campuses working on getting sports practices back
- Some opted not to open until this week.
- Some pushback as regard to the fall – virtual school option for public schools – RFP open on Monday of this week. Meeting yesterday afternoon to brief Dr. Mackey with responses – all over the map responses (costs, proposals different from different vendors) – 7 vendors responded to all or part of the RFPs
- There is a team of instructional and technical specialists going through the vendor applications with a focus on K-8.
- We have a limited number of folks that can participate in those classes. Will use federal funds to expand capacity for 9-12
- proposal out to get coursework for local school systems - Hire teachers and give virtual instruction as requested. Asked school admin to ask parents whether or not they prefer an online option – example: 4-5% to 33% - difficult for local school system with the larger numbers/ need 30% of faculty committed to virtual, rest for on-campus – working on issues all summer
- Schoology – statewide learning management system under contract – part of the power school student information system, now expanding because the original purchase did not have a virtual option (new contract negotiated already, will be put into place before the fall)
- will have a draft to refine to meet needs as best possible – publicly available within about three weeks (have to wait until the final document to mitigate potential confusion within the community)
- as we continue to implement the Alabama Literacy Act, some reading specialists are being moved (voluntarily – have applied) to take positions as personal coaches and reading coaches in high-need areas / wanted to begin on 1 July, but many will start 1 August so the local positions can be replaced
- Folks will work for home, Dept of ED will pay travel as they go back and forth to critical need areas
Dr. Nicole Jones
About Dr. Nicole Jones
Tags: Nicole Jones, Huntsville, AL, Montgomery, Arley, Tuscaloosa, Nicole Jones Alabama, economic development, #Our67
Dr. Nicole Jones
Post Office Box 667
Huntsville, Alabama 35804
Post Office Box 67
Arley, Alabama 35541
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