HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville city and health officials said they’re preparing for parts of the economy to reopen when the state’s health order expires at the end of the month.
Mayor Tommy Battle said in Monday’s daily COVID-19 briefing that the city is anticipating some businesses reopening after the April 30 health order expires.
“But to open up does not mean it’s wide open,” Battle said. “It means we start in a phased approach so that people when they get out, they can still stay separated and make sure we don’t spread the virus.”
There have been four confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in Madison County and 200 confirmed cases total.
Battle said Huntsville, along with leadership from the 9 other largest cities in the state, will send Gov. Kay Ivey recommendations about reopening for her consideration.
Once the go-ahead is given, Battle said he anticipates most businesses reopening with four weeks. He also said he hopes to get Ivey’s order with a few days notice to get law enforcement on the same page in terms of enforcing whatever rules are established.
The goal is to prevent a resurgence in cases as people come out of their homes, Battle said.
“It’s a very fine line to run,” he said. “You have to make sure your economy moves forward, but you have to make sure that you’re safe.”
Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers also said he believes there will be a spike in cases at some point during the reopening process. He said reopening isn’t a decision he gets to make, and while he didn’t say specifically whether he was for or against reopening businesses at the beginning of May, the hospitals will be ready and watching.
“We’ll watch it. We’ll manage it,” Spillers said. “I said two weeks ago I’d rather open up two weeks late than two weeks early. That’s just my opinion because our organization is the one that’s got to deal with the people who ultimately end up the sickest with this disease.”
Spillers said numbers indicated Madison County’s confirmed cases have peaked already, and the hospital is also considering getting back to business and resuming elective procedures in early May.
“As the rest of the state opens, we will too,” he said.