Several Wiregrass area dine-in restaurants, bars, salons and gyms joined their counterparts across Alabama on Monday and welcomed customers for the first time in more than a month as the state eased restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
However, as segments of the state’s economy opened, the Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed the state topped 10,000 coronavirus cases and more than 400 COVID-19 deaths.
Gov. Kay Ivey last week announced a loosening of restrictions to “provide additional opportunities for people to go back to work.” She also warned state residents to continue to follow safety protocols as more retail outlets opened.
Businesses including restaurants, hair salons, bars, breweries and gymnasiums started opening with rules, including crowd limits and cleaning requirements.
Many Wiregrass restaurants and other businesses, several displaying “open” or “dine-in” signs in windows, welcomed customers who ventured out on the first day as the new “safer-at-home” guidelines went into effect.
The state also lifted bans on non-work gatherings of 10 or more people. The change will allow churches, if they choose, to resume in-person services.
Theaters, bowling alleys and other entertainment venues remain closed.
As of Monday at 5 p.m., 10,009 state residents had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. And, 401 residents have died from the illness, according to ADPH’s online dashboard. Since mid-March, there have been 1,256 hospitalizations across the state.
Data released Monday by the Dothan-Houston County Emergency Management Joint Information Center noted a combined 12 new positive COVID-19 cases at Southeast Health and Flowers Hospital since Friday, eight new cases at Flowers and four at Southeast Health.
In addition to its positive cases, Southeast Health reported it has tested 727 patients, including 604 who received negative test results. The hospital had 18 pending test results, include three for inpatients. Since testing started, 61 positive-tested patients who were admitted have been discharged, and 17 deaths have been recorded.
Flowers Hospital reported it had 58 confirmed positive cases and no test results pending. The hospital has performed 633 tests, and no COVID-related deaths have been announced.
Coffee leads all Wiregrass counties with 147 confirmed cases. Other positive test results include: Houston County (105), Pike County (95), Barbour County (61), Covington County (54), Dale County (44), Henry County (28), and Geneva (14). ADPH records show the counties have performed 6,002 tests.