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Ivey to share COVID-19 reopening plans on Tuesday

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is expected to make an announcement Tuesday regarding the future of state closure orders because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Ivey and State Health Officer Scott Harris have scheduled a Tuesday morning news conference along with members of the governor’s coronavirus task force. Alabama is under a stay-home order through April 30.
Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola said previously that the state would probably hear an announcement early this week “as to how Alabama will gradually phase in business.”
Facing political pressure to follow the aggressive plans of other Southern states — including Georgia, which began reopening businesses Friday — Ivey had stated the decision to reopen will be driven by data.
State Health Officer Scott Harris said last week that the state at that time hadn’t quite met a White House recommendation of 14 days of declining cases before proceeding to the first phase of reopening.
The Alabama Department of Public Health reported Monday that Alabama had more than 6,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 215 reported deaths.
Dr. Rachael Lee, an epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said Monday that there are positive signs in the numbers, but she emphasized the need for more testing to track and contain the virus.
“If you look at the case numbers per day, it appears to be slowing which is a good sign for Alabama that we aren’t seeing that high rise of cases like we were before,” Lee said.
She said while numbers in the Birmingham area have declined, they are still seeing cases and that “could potentially go up” if things are opened up too quickly.
“I personally think we still need more testing in other parts of Alabama to be able to truly say as a state that we can open up safely,” Lee said.
The Alabama Department of Public Health reported Monday that about 74,000 tests have been conducted. Alabama has a population of 4.9 million.
Ivey has signaled that any reopening would be done in phases.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including life-threatening pneumonia.
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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.