Coronavirus patients no longer coming to Alabama

Published 9:08 pm Monday, February 24, 2020

A statement released by the US Department of Health and Human Services on Saturday stated that coronavirus patients would be sent to an Anniston FEMA facility.

The statement started a storm of opposition from leaders across the state, from U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby and Doug Jones and U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers to Pike County Rep. Wes Allen.

“HHS is taking precautions to protect the health of all Americans from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” the HHS statement read. “To that end, HHS and FEMA agreed to use a federal facility, the FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama, as a place for some of the American passengers from the Diamond Princess to stay. These are passengers whom the federal government evacuated back to the U.S. from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.”

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Allen was among many legislators to reach out to Gov. Kay Ivey seeking to block the infected Americans from being housed in an Alabama facility.

Gov. Ivey released a statement on Sunday clarifying that the patients are not coming to Alabama – at least not yet.

“On Saturday, it appears that a press release from HHS was inadvertently, and perhaps prematurely, sent notifying the State of Alabama that these individuals were scheduled to begin transporting to Alabama as early as Wednesday,” Ivey said in the statement. “Obviously concerned, there were a number of conversations between HHS, the White House, my staff and me, as well as two rounds of conference calls including the senior staff of the Congressional Delegation to try to clarify HHS’ intent and reasoning for selecting Alabama. On one of the calls, they informed us that the CDP in Anniston is only being considered as a “back-up” plan, in case they run out of alternative locations. They assured us on both calls that no decision had been made to send anyone to Anniston.”

At this time, there have still been no reported cases of coronavirus in Alabama according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

“I made it abundantly clear that while the State of Alabama wants to work closely with the Trump Administration to assist fellow Americans who may have tested positive for the Coronavirus, there were some grave concerns about why the site in Anniston was chosen and how, logistically, this would play out in the event this back-up site were to be eventually activated.

State officials also reported that Trump had stepped in to keep patients from being housed in Anniston.

“I was glad to hear the news that President Trump stopped the plan to house those infected with coronavirus in Alabama will not move forward,” Allen said. “I appreciate Gov. Ivey’s hard work on this issue as well as Sen. Shelby and our congressional delegation.

The vast majority of cases are in China. COVID-19 has infected tens of thousands of people and caused more than 2,000 deaths in that country. Cases have also been reported in more than a dozen other nations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.