• 72°

Lanett holds press conference on COVID-19

LANETT — At a Saturday morning press conference at Lanett City Hall, Mayor Kyle McCoy, State Rep. Debbie Wood and State Senator Randy Price discussed what a recent order by State Health Officer Scott Harris meant for the local area.

On March 16, Harris took action to suspend public gatherings in Jefferson County. The next day he amended that order to include Blount, St. Clair, Shelby, Tuscaloosa and Walker counties, and on March 19 the order went statewide. Effective at 5 p.m. CDT on Friday, March 28, the order was further amended to include all non-work gatherings of 10 or more people or any non-work related gathering that could not maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons.

The order pretty much closes many businesses, with the obvious exception of some, such as convenience stores, grocery stores and pharmacies. It also closed playgrounds, any kind of sport facility that can’t keep people six feet apart, fitness centers and spas. Close-contact service providers such as barber shops, hair salons, waxing salons, nail salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlors and massage-therapy establishments have also been closed indefinitely in Alabama.

This order from the state, said Mayor McCoy, and is a clear indication that Gov. Kay Ivey is taking the COVID-19 threat very seriously. “We all should be doing that,” he said, adding that Chambers County is fortunate to have local testing for the coronavirus at EAMC-Lanier Hospital.

The closures will be in effect from now through April 17. They could be extended at that time, depending on the severity of the pandemic.

Chambers County has a higher number of confirmed cases than do many similar-sized nearby counties. McCoy attributes to more testing for local residents than what’s taking place in the other counties. When it comes to the coronavirus, the earlier one knows they have it the better.

“Don’t kid yourself,” he said. “This virus knows no bounds. It can affect anyone.”

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Price said. “It affects everyone’s livelihood. It is affecting all kinds of businesses. Rep. Wood and I are staying in constant contact with state officials on this, and we will keep the public informed. We will do what we can to get your business the help you need. What’s going on right now is so unfortunate.”

Price said he is in the state senate to help his constituents. He said that anyone having any kind of problem can call him at (334) 559-0483, and he will talk to them about it.

“I work for you” he said, “and am looking forward to helping you as we get things back to normal.”

Wood said that we now live in an era of social distancing but that we still love each other and are in constant prayer for deliverance from this virus.

“We can pray like we’ve never prayed before,” she said.

McCoy said the state closures did not affect fast food restaurants with drive-in windows. The conventional sit-down restaurants could still serve food to those who call in and come by to pick it up. Restaurant dining is no longer allowed.

“Call them and let them know what you want, and they will bring it out to your car,” McCoy explained. “Stores like Family Dollar will stay open. They sell groceries.”

“We are learning what to do,” Wood said. “There are some new procedures, and we have to maintain social distancing.”

Wood said that realtors are practicing social distancing when showing homes to interested buyers.

“There are people who want to come here,” she said. “We want to do all we can to open our doors to them.”

“When all is said and done,” McCoy said, “I think we will all realize that Gov. Ivey did the right thing with these closures. I think Alabama will be one of the states that did it the right way. It’s difficult to maintain social distancing, but it’s what we have to do.”

McCoy said the Point University golf course will remain open but the pro shop will be closed.

“Golfing will be limited to one person per cart,” he said.

The mayor said the city will maintain all essential services, though the employees will be working different shifts. Anyone who needs to go to city hall is asked to go to the drive-in window. The city’s public works department will be assigned to two shifts, one for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and another for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

“We are trying to keep city services going with our people keeping safe distances apart,” the mayor said.

One brush truck will remain in service. Rather than having two trucks working five days a week, there will be one truck working six days. This truck picks up curbside yard waste, such as tree limbs, hedge and grass clippings.

The mayor said he had been saddened by the recent deaths of two Lanett residents due to COVID-19.

“I knew them very well,” he said. “They were good Christian people and are no longer with us. It’s surreal to me, but if it’s not the kind of thing that doesn’t get your attention, then nothing will. We have to get serious about this. If you don’t understand the urgency of it, I don’t know what to tell you. From now until further notice, we have to avoid gatherings and to maintain social distancing.”

“When you are an elected official, you have responsibilities,” Wood said. “Sometimes you have to vote on behalf of your constituents, and sometimes you pray for their well-being. This is one of those times when prayer is needed.”

Wood said that one way residents can help local first responders is to avoid calling 911 if they are feeling coronavirus symptoms.

“First call 334-528-SICK,” she said. “Someone will ask you some questions and tell you what to do. We don’t need to overwhelm our paramedics.”

McCoy said he would continually inform Lanett residents on what was being done in response to the spread of COVID-19.