With openings, most vulnerable need protection

Published 1:40 am Wednesday, May 20, 2020

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By PAUL DeMARCO | Guest Columnist

Note: This is an opinion column.

Gov. Kay Ivey opened up more of Alabama’s economy this past week, allowing restaurants, bars, gyms, salons and churches in the state to open back up on May 11.

While the governor announced the lifting of such restrictions, she did caution that citizens should remain careful and vigilant since state residents were still testing positive for the coronavirus.

Yet, while Alabama starts the slow process of trying to return back to some normal routine, we need to remember we have neighbors who are particularly vulnerable to the virus.

We have those that suffer from underlying conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or a compromised immune system.

In addition, a large number of seniors have made up a disproportionate number of the fatalities from the disease in the state and the Nation.

We should work especially hard to protect seniors at nursing and state veterans homes. The Alabama Department of Public Health must work to assist these facilities continue to provide testing of residents and staff, including those individuals that may be asymptomatic to prevent clusters of those infected from spreading .

The state should ensure that all facilities have access to the personal protective equipment that has been in short supply.

The state must also expend the necessary resources to recruit, hire and train public health staff who can do the necessary contact tracing for both these facilities and the state as a whole.

With the state pushing forward to open, we must make it a priority to do everything possible to confirm we are protecting those fellow Alabamians that may be impacted the most during the pandemic.

Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives.