Dothan, AL (WTVY)-- Houston County and Dothan leaders are urging—demanding may be the better word--that people comply with Alabama's safe at home order
“This is a very serious situation and I hope (they) are doing what is being asked of them,” County Chairman Mark Culver said during a briefing Saturday, when the order went into effect.
Governor Kay Ivey's order—also referred to a shelter in place-- came as pressure was building on her to follow over 40 other states that had already implemented similar orders to combat the spread of COVID-19.
There has been speculation the order was imminent.
“The more that we can hurt right now, the better off we will be. Hopefully, by the end of April we'll see the work we're doing now pay off,” Mayor Mark Saliba said.
Despite the safe at home order, people can still venture out for certain reasons.
Shopping is allowed at supermarkets and other businesses considered essential are also open. All stores, though, are not to exceed 50 percent of their customer capacity. Walmart has set a voluntary 20 percent limit, creating long lines at the popular retailer.
It is suggested that only one family member shop, when possible.
Alabamians can go to work if their employment is considered essential. They can also take a stroll, go to the doctor, visit a pharmacy, travel to take care of a friend or relative, and go fishing.
Drive-up churches are permissible, but only with conditions. “All participants in a vehicle must be from the same family and everybody has to remain in their car,” said state Regional Health Officer Corey Kirkland.
There have been 26 confirmed coronavirus related deaths in the state, with 18 others suspected. The Alabama Department of Public Health, as of late Friday, reported 1614 COVID-19 cases.
The pandemic has hit the healthcare sector hard, stretching some hospitals to their breaking point. It has also stymied what had been a robust economy.
Statewide, 66,000 filed for unemployment in the first three days of this week, per the state Department of Labor. Some projections suggest at least 30 percent of Alabamians may be without a job before the pandemic eases.
Mayor Saliba is hopeful that struggling merchants will seek emergency loans and grants included in the recently passed federal stimulus package. “There is the Payroll Protection Plan and I urge businesses to get in touch with the Small Business Administration,” he said.