Op-ed: A war with an invisible enemy

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Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview (Cullman Tribune file photo)

The coronavirus pandemic has been called a war with an invisible enemy.

The Greatest Generation taught us to win a war; we have to be “all in” and we can win this one that way, too!

Legislators begin each week with a conference call with Governor Ivey and her team to work together to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Today, Alabama has 821 cases and 15 deaths.

We have a big concern about the potential for hospitalization surge during the next two weeks, depending on the success of social distancing.

Legislators are given the opportunity to submit questions to the governor at conference calls. I submitted two questions to Governor Ivey at our first conference call.

One – Could Alabama’s automotive manufacturers switch to producing ventilators for Alabama hospitals?

Two – Could we identify a large number of Alabama manufacturers that could switch to producing masks and protective garments for Alabama healthcare employees and first responders?

Governor Ivey’s office quickly looked into these questions and results were:

One – It would be a long and time-consuming process for Alabama’s automotive manufacturers to change to medical ventilator production.

Two – Governor Ivey’s office has been and continues to work the phones and manufacturing contacts to address the medical supply needs in our state.

Today’s conference call revealed a good report on my second question. Governor Ivey’s “Business and Manufacturing Alliance (BAMA)” identified 34 Alabama companies that can potentially produce PPE/equipment to protect Alabama’s healthcare employees and first responders.

Companies in Bessemer, Birmingham, Dekalb County, Eufaula, Guntersville and Mobile.

Alabama native and Apple CEO Tim Cook has donated 100,000 N95s and 120,000 surgical masks to Alabama.

Due to the state’s order to postpone elective surgery, currently the hospital occupancy is down. This helps in preparation for the hospitalization surge expected during the next two weeks.

Hospital beds are being added across the state with the help of the Corp of Engineers.

Mental Health continues operations through tele-therapy and directly when necessary.

The Alabama National Guard is on standby with 12,000 soldiers and airmen.

Economic impact

A new interactive website will be operational this week (Together Alabama) and will be the most advanced in the Southeast, with capability for people to ask specific questions and be answered.

Obviously, people and businesses are hurting financially. I’ve been concerned about information overload, so I think this website will be helpful to get individual questions answered.

State budgets will be impacted, but the first six months of the fiscal year have been strong and with reserve funds in place, we don’t expect proration this year.

Once this pandemic is under control, I believe our state will bounce back. It may take a little time, but we will bounce back!

Extreme measures have been implemented to try prevent the spread. Please, let’s all do our part.

There’s one thing more precious than gold — breathing!

Thank y’all for letting me represent you in Montgomery!

Sincerely,

Randall Shedd
District 11, Alabama
House of Representatives