Following a directive from the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) released earlier Friday morning, Shelton State Community College’s previously announced plan to move temporarily to remote instruction will continue for the duration of the spring semester.  Additionally, due to restrictions on event sizes by state and federal officials, the College will postpone its spring commencement exercises.

The Tuscaloosa County Park & Recreation Authority has announced a decision to close its centers and stop its programming. Here is the message sent via press release:

DCH Health System is putting out the call for PPE (personal protective equipment) for its health care providers in the wake of growing cases of COVID-19 and the anticipation of need. Donations are encouraged.

Due to the rapidly developing situation, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox has issued an executive order extending the public safety curfew for Tuscaloosa residents to 24 hours a day. The order will go into effect on Sunday, March 29 at 10 p.m. and continue in effect until midnight on Saturday, April 11. The order will be re-evaluated on Saturday, April 11.

Governor Kay Ivey has just announced that all K-12 public schools in Alabama will remain closed for the rest of the academic school year, with students continuing online education.

On Wednesday, March 25th, Bryant Bank announced that it will provide a lead donation in the amount of $50,000 to the Small Business Relief Fund in support of West Alabama’s small business community.

The Small Business Relief Fund is a Community Foundation of West Alabama fund administered by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.  The goal of the fund is to quickly administer much needed funding to West Alabama’s hardest-hit businesses as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

In response to health and safety restrictions enacted by the Alabama Department of Public Health about COVID-19, the City of Tuscaloosa is piloting a curbside pick-up Farmers Market at the Tuscaloosa River Market on Saturday, March 28 from 7 a.m. to noon. 

In an ongoing effort to promote the health and welfare of the residents of Tuscaloosa in light of COVID-19, Mayor Walt Maddox has issued an Executive Order to implement a limited city-wide curfew from 10 p.m. – 5 a.m., 7 days a week beginning on Friday, March 27. The curfew will remain in effect until 12:00 a.m. on Friday, April 3.
 
During the times of the curfew, all citizens are required to remain in their home or current place of residence.

In an effort to help support small businesses feeling the devastating effects of COVID-19, the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama has teamed up with the Community Foundation of West Alabama for a Small Business Relief Fund.

DCH needs help. The hospital, which has been testing for COVID-19 in recent days, is in need of touchless thermometers. The call went out on DCH Health System's Facebook page.

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International will host a blood drive Tuesday, March 24 to assist DCH Health System with a critical need for blood. MBUSI has temporarily halted production for two weeks as a measure to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

Several area grocery stores in the Tuscaloosa area are offering special hours and opportunities for seniors and those at risk to shop in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hope is that these “Senior Hours” will help those most at-risk avoid busier and more crowded shopping periods. Many are also closing early to allow workers to sanitize, clean, and restock store shelves.  according to owner Jay Welborn.

“I am so proud of our employees and the effort they have sustained for several days,” said Jay Welborn, owner of the Piggly Wiggly stores in Tuscaloosa and Northport. 

Hours of operation at many of these stores were still changing. The best advice on when they open/close will be to call the store directly or check the store’s website/social media accounts.

Becoming part of a blended family means big changes for everyone—grown-ups and children alike. Children may feel uncertain, afraid, and mistrustful as they adjust. Consider these strategies for helping children through this transition.

This week's HSWA Pet of the Week is Mattie - she's part beagle, part bassett hound... she's a "bagle" dog!

Elective Medical Procedures
The state has issued an order requiring all elective medical procedures to be delayed until at least April 5. All non-urgent/emergent procedures will be cancelled starting Monday, 3/23/2020. We ask you to contact your physician for assistance in determining if a case would be considered urgent/emergent based on guidelines that have been established.  

Screening 
Unfortunately, some specimens from the screening effort were unable to be tested by the lab. Feedback from the state lab has indicated two main reasons for this. First, reports of insufficient cooling during transport have contributed to specimens that could not be tested. The second issue has been the lack of sufficient material to test. These issues have impacted both the swab and Sputum cup collection methods and DCH and other hospitals across the state have been working to improve their processes as information has come in.

We are working with FEMA, ADPH, and the US Government to get more swab test kits to meet the needs of our community ASAP.

If you record indicates the sample was insufficient for a test and you are feeling worse, please know you can come back and get retested or see/call your doctor. False negatives are not impossible and even if negative you can still get infected later. You should practice social distancing for at least 14 days from the onset of symptoms.

 

As the number of COVID-19 cases identified in Alabama increases, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris has provided additional guidance suspending public gatherings  of Alabamians, in an amended health order issued today and applicable statewide.

Mercedes-Benz will temporarily cease production of its vehicles beginning on Monday, March 23 through April 6. Here is the press release:

Due to the worsening situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in North America, Mercedes-Benz has decided today to halt the majority of its local production as well as work in selected administrative departments. By taking this action, the company is following the recommendations of international, national and local authorities. The temporary halt applies to the Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant (Alabama) as well as to Mercedes-Benz Vans LLC, Charleston (South Carolina). It will start gradually next week, in Tuscaloosa beginning on Monday for an initial period of two weeks.

The employees’ health and safety has top priority at Mercedes-Benz. Therefore, the halt of production and administration as a measure to ensure this and to further contain the spread of the pandemic. Wherever essential work is necessary, the company will continue operations in coordination with the respective authorities. All appropriate precautions to prevent the infection of its employees will be taken.

The management is monitoring the situation constantly and will take further measures as required. Operations will be resumed when the situation improves.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris has issued orders suspending certain public gatherings due to the risk of infection by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 effective from now until April 6. These orders are applicable for all Alabama counties, including Tuscaloosa County.

In an ongoing effort to promote the health and welfare of the residents of Tuscaloosa in light of COVID-19, Mayor Walt Maddox has issued an Executive Order to close all City of Tuscaloosa owned parks to the public nightly from dusk until dawn. 

This message from Dr. Stuart R. Bell, UA president, was sent to students, faculty and staff today (March 18, 2020).

Dear UA students, faculty and staff,

As the COVID-19 pandemic affects our community and the world, our UA administration has been tirelessly consulting available resources and experts to make decisions that are in the best interests of the health and safety of our campus community.

Given the latest directives from federal and state officials, I have signed an Emergency Declaration for The University of Alabama, allowing our officials to take further actions to protect the campus community and limit access to campus premises during this public health crisis. This is consistent with the Governor’s announcement of updated precautionary public health guidelines, including prohibiting on-premises service at restaurants in town.

Our semester will be completed under the plan below, posted on our website at healthinfo.ua.edu and updated as additional details become available. Please understand the thoughtfulness with which this plan was developed and is now conveyed. I personally believe there is no higher calling than to be an educator, and it is a great joy of my life and of the lives of our many faculty and staff to interact with a rich and active campus life. This year, more than others, we look forward to the later return of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and supporters who make our campus community so special.

  1. Spring 2020 Classes. All remaining classes this semester will be taught remotely. There will be no further person-to-person or on-site instruction. Exceptions will only be made as accreditors or licensors require, and as specifically approved by the Provost. Our faculty are working hard to offer the best alternatives to our students, using the most effective tools available. Faculty, know that the administration supports you in these efforts, and assistance is provided via the Center for Instructional Technology, the Office of Information Technology and the Provost – linked at ua.edu. Students, know that your professors will support you through this transition.
  2. Students Must NOT Return to Campus from Spring Break. Residence halls and Greek residential houses are closed. Recreation facilities are also closed. Dining halls, food courts, libraries and other services will not be readily available. The availability of such services in the community is also greatly limited. Now that on-campus classes will not resume this semester, a plan will be communicated in the near future regarding residential student housing fees and meal plans.
  3. Short-Term Hardships Must Be Compelling and Specifically Approved in Order to Remain in Campus Housing. Students with hardships, such as homeless students or those without the ability to complete classes online from home, must apply for an exception with supporting documentation to Student Life. Short-term and limited arrangements will only be approved, under extenuating and rare circumstances, by an administrative team appointed by the Vice President for Student Life.
  4. Move Out Plan for On-Campus Housing. In order to provide for further social distancing, a staggered plan to retrieve your belongings from the residence halls and Greek houses is being developed and will be communicated at a later date. Students are not authorized to return to campus outside of this plan and any who show up without authorization will not be accommodated. Students needing immediate access to medicines or other critical necessities should call:
    Residence halls:  205-348-6676
    Greek houses:  205-348-2693
  1. Cancellation of Spring Commencement and other Events. Honors week, athletic activities and other events are cancelled for the remainder of the semester.  On-campus Spring Commencement will not be held as scheduled, and families should not plan on traveling to campus for that event. We are actively exploring and hope to provide alternative means of recognizing the significant achievements of graduates and students earning honors, but it is too early to make those plans firm.
  2. Interim/Summer Education Abroad. Interim and summer education abroad classes are cancelled. Further communications to affected faculty, staff and students will be forthcoming.
  3. Interim/Summer Classes. Given the current guidance, it is possible that online models of instruction will continue for all students through interim and regular summer terms. Registration for those terms may be extended.
  4. Further Information from ADPH. We are working closely with the UA System COVID-19 Task Force, the infectious disease specialists on our sister campuses and the Alabama Department of Public Health on all aspects of virus prevention, testing, notification and treatment. Once the health department receives notification of a positive result, the health department — or an official designee — will contact the person who tested positive and begin determining who around the person might have been exposed. ADPH gathers and provides verified tests, contacts the case, determines the contacts at risk, and notifies individuals of what to do. If an individual is determined to have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed, ADPH will contact that individual directly to discuss next steps.

Thank you for your understanding and your strict compliance with this plan.  It is necessary for the health and well-being of our academic community. My best wishes are with each of you, and I know we will face this unprecedented emergency together with our ever-present resilience and uncompromising spirit as we continue our service in the highest manner.

Sincerely,

Stuart R. Bell
President

Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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