As of today, March 16, there are 22 COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases in Alabama. The stores are being depleted of thermometers, analgesics, peanut butter, and of course, toilet paper. And you know it’s bad when Chic-fil-A closes their dining room. All of the schools have closed until mid-April, and Alabama government has recommended we limit gatherings to 50, or less, people and there must be a six-foot distance between participants.
Now, parents are worried about how they will pay the bills and feed the kids when they are having to stay home. Businesses are suffering and some are laying off workers, and those workers are stressed about paying their mortgages. Everyone is worried about what is next, especially since our economy is teetering.
H.R. 6201 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act
On Saturday, the House passed the relief bill H.R. 6201, titled “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” which goes to the Senate this week. The bill will provide massive funding for already existing programs such as WIC and SNAP. Also, $15,000,000 will go toward taxpayer services to carry out the Act. Under DHR, $250,000,000 will be for the “Aging and Disability Services Programs,” of which $160,000,000 will be for home-delivered meals; $80,000 for nutrition services, and $10,000,00 for Native American food services.
Medicaid and Medicare will be allotted $1,000,000,000 for COVID-19 related health expenses reimbursements, and $30,000,00 for administration costs.
An additional definition will be added to the Family and Medical Leave Act for paid employee leave, if the employee has coronavirus or has been exposed or exhibiting symptoms. Also, if they need to care for a family member who is sick with the virus. Leave will also be granted for caring for minor children, if the children are out of school/daycare because of a public health emergency.
Additionally, a proposal for separate legislation is being submitted by Senator Mitt Romney to give $1,000 to every adult for economic relief.
Hopefully by the time you are reading this article, the bill will have passed, or this will all be over. For a look at the bill and everything it provides, go to www.govtrack.us and search for the bill by name. On a lighter note, gas is cheaper as is air travel and with a zero percent interest rate now is the best time to refinance your home.
Phenix City Schools
Phenix City Schools Superintendent Randy Wilkes sent a letter to parents and media on Monday regarding plans during the quarantine. The school system plans to use a combination of take-home packets and computer apps, such as Google Classroom, Screencastify, and Google Hangouts for online learning opportunities.
A list of other resources and programs were listed. For those students who do not have Internet at home, the school system is directing them to contact CTV Beam, which is offering internet services accommodations during the quarantine.
Unfortunately, for some kids, school is the only time they get enough food. Phenix City Schools will provide free meals to all children (18 and under) at designated sites by school bus from 11 a.m. until 11:30 a.m from March 18 through March 20. No meals will be served March 23-27 due to spring break. Meals will resume March 30 – April 3. Children must be present to receive a meal and they must be consumed off-site. Parents are asked to remind their children to keep a social distance (physical distance of six feet) while waiting for their meal.
Services areas are at the following apartments: Frederick Douglass, Hidden Hills Trace, Whispering Pines, Sumbry Hill, Spring Ridge, Riverview, Greenleaf, and Steeplecrest. Other locations are 420 Martin Luther King Pkwy and Sanford Road Park.
The school board moved the work session from March 17-19 at 6 p.m. following by the regular session on the same day at approximately 7 pm.
Russell County Schools
Russell County Schools Superintendent Dr. Brenda Coley sent out a statement Monday evening that Russell County Schools will provide free meals to all children (ages 18 and under) at designated sites throughout the county.
Since the system is attempting to serve various areas of the county, there are exact times for each drop-off location. However, meals are to be delivered between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Meal service dates are March 19-20 and March 30 thru April 3. No meals will be served during spring break. Children must be present to receive a meal, keep at least six feet away from others while in line, and consume food off-site.
Serving locations are Hurtsboro City Hall, Hatchechubbee Fire Department, Pittsview Post Office, Russell County Middle School, Mt. Olive Primary/Intermediate School Westgate Pool House, Ladonia Elementary School, Woodland Drive Baptist Church Crawford Fire Department, Dixie Elementary.
The City of Phenix City live-streamed their work session on Monday, closing the location to the public. The Russell County Commission called an emergency meeting for Tuesday in which they cancelled the March 25 meeting and authorized the chair and vice chair to cancel future meetings.
In the agenda, EMA Director Bob Franklin planned to review the Russell county COVID-19 Pandemic Plan for approval and Commissioner Chance Corbett planned to discuss County Facility Rentals.