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LaFayette joins other Chambers County cities with declaration

LaFAYETTE — On Wednesday, LaFayette became the third city government in Chambers County to unanimously approve a declaration of emergency.

Valley and Lanett had earlier approved this action, which is being recommended by the Alabama League of Municipalities. Cities approving such a declaration are in better position to receive reimbursement from state and federal levels due to the impact of COVID-19.

Attendees at the noon hour CDT meeting were spread out at least six feet apart in keeping with the Centers for Disease Control and Infection’s (CDC) recommendations. There was a large bottle of hand sanitizer in the council chamber and Council Member Charlotte Blasingame wore a medical mask. Also present were Mayor Barry Moody and council members Michael Ellis and Toney Thomas. Council Member Tammie Williams participated by conference call.

Following the council action, Moody made an impassioned plea for LaFayette residents to heed the safety recommendations being made on hand washing, social distancing and to stay away from gatherings of 10 or more people. Not that long ago, he said, this virus was in far-off China and appeared to be no threat to us in the U.S.

“The coronavirus made it from China to Europe and is now in every state in the U.S.,” he said. “It’s in Atlanta, New Orleans and in Florida. In Alabama we can look to Jefferson County, Huntsville, Shelby County, Mobile – it’s there. It’s also in Chambers County in a big way. Out of 67 counties in Alabama, we are number five in terms of confirmed cases. We are also at the top in terms of deaths. We have five of them in Chambers County.”

Moody said that some of the people who have died have LaFayette connections. He said the passing of Jeanette Davis had been especially hard to take.

“She had been living in Lanett but was originally from LaFayette,” he said. “I will never forget when the Russell plant closed in LaFayette several years ago she sang a farewell song that touched everyone’s hearts. My daughter still talks about how well she did that and what it meant to everyone.”

Moody said Davis died of COVID-19 Friday at EAMC in Opelika. She was 57.

“We cannot be taking this lightly,” Moody said. “This virus is here, it’s deadly and we need to follow safety recommendations. I applaud those who are heeding this. Lowe’s Pharmacy is doing a great job with social distancing while delivering the prescriptions people need. Phil Teague has done some great work with putting in plexiglass partitions at Piggly Wiggly. Renfrow’s is doing good work with staying open, providing groceries and maintaining distancing. Our lifestyle has changed, but we are still getting the necessities of life.”

Moody said that an elderly resident had called him several days ago and told him he needed to do more in shutting down the town.

“I told him that we have to keep our essential services going,” Moody said. “We have to have police, fire and ambulance service. We have to keep our pharmacies and our grocery stores open. We can do this and have social distancing.”

Moody said he was concerned with the possibility some hospitals could be overwhelmed. They stay plenty busy, he said, with normal illnesses. When an influx of COVID-19 cases are piled onto that, it can create serious problems.

“This virus has made it here all the way from China,” Moody said. “I am pleading for everyone in LaFayette to take this seriously. Wash your hands as often as possible, maintain social distancing and don’t attend gatherings. Stay at home with your family and don’t invite friends over. Some people need to work. That’s understandable. It’s okay to drive from your home to work and back again. It’s understandable to drive to the grocery store for food or to the pharmacy for medicine. Essential trips are okay, but don’t expose yourself or others to this virus by making unnecessary trips. Stay at home as much as you can until this crisis is behind us. Don’t be in groups of 10 or more people. It will take everyone doing their part for us to get over this.”

Moody said that he was “just an old country boy” who loved to shake hands with people. “It’s hard to get out of these old habits,” he said, “but my wife has MS (multiple sclerosis) and our grandchildren haven’t seen her in two weeks.”

Those with existing medical conditions like MS are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus and need to be safeguarded from getting it.

“We love to socialize in LaFayette,” Moody said.

“We love to grill out with our friends and neighbors, and we love to go to ball games. We must realize that we can’t do that right now. The way of life we have known for so long has changed. Like Gov. Kay Ivey has said, there’s no manual to tell us what we have to do on this. We have to make up some rules as we go. The one thing we do know is that this virus is here, it is deadly, and five people from Chambers County have died from it. I am asking all our citizens as urgently as I can to do all you can to protect yourself and your loved ones. We will get through this one day, but we want to get there losing as few people as we can.”