City of Florence opts out of declaring a local state of emergency

The city said since there are no Coronavirus cases in the Shoals they have not declared a local state of emergency.

Posted: Mar 16, 2020 5:24 PM
Updated: Mar 16, 2020 8:49 PM

Monday, department heads throughout Lauderdale County and Florence met to discuss coronavirus preparations in the Shoals. The city of Florence said it's still business as usual for the most part. It has not declared a local state of emergency, because there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in the Shoals.

Florence Mayor Steve Holt took the podium around 2 p.m. He said the city is still monitoring the situation before declaring a state of emergency. No one in the meeting shook hands and rather did the elbow bump.

Holt said all parks and recreation sporting events are cancelled.

He acknowledged there were some private events that happened this weekend with bigger crowds of people, like Shoals Wine Fest. Holt said the city did not want to tell those businesses how to operate, but he did point out things are changing quickly with the coronavirus.

"Right now were in that area of unknown news and it keeps changing daily that's why we wanted to do this today and to ensure you that were doing to continue doing what were doing on a daily basis," said Holt.

Holt also said they are working on a plan to possibly help people with their utility bills if they cannot work or have to stay in their homes. Those plans are being developed.

Russell Pigg, the CEO of the North Alabama Medical Center, was also at the meeting and said the hospital is limiting it's visitors to one healthy person per patient. Pigg did not say how many ICU and hospital beds they have available at this time but he said they have plans in place and are weighing options for an outdoor triage center and drive through coronavirus tests.

Pigg said as people come into the hospital they are not taking their temperature but rather asking them if they've had a fever or been to an infected area. WAAY 31 asked Pigg if they have the capacity to handle a surge of patients. He said yes.

"In terms of a treatment center we're working with the Alabama Department of Public Health and Dr. Landers were considering all of those options," said Pigg when asked about an outdoor triage center.

WAAY 31 then asked about the drive-thru testing that other states are doing he said, "That's one of the options we've talked about but we haven't acted on it yet."

There are no confirmed coronavirus cases in Colbert, Lauderdale, or Franklin counties.

Thousands of students in the Shoals are out of school for the next few weeks. Many are wondering if assessments/spring testing will happen for students.

Dr. Jimmy Shaw the Superintendent of Florence City Schools said teachers and whole school districts are essentially judged on how students score on theses tests in public schools systems.

Shaw said the state board of education is updating educators across the state about testing.

"One of the latest updates we had last night even was the possibility Of our state applying to the federal government to have an assessment waver for this year. They did not say that is what they will do but they laid out all of the options and that is one of the options," said Jimmy Shaw, the Superintendent of Florence City Schools.

Whether or not academic statewide testing will happen is up in the air at this point.

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