Local leaders meet to discuss safety strategies for community regarding COVID-1

Eutaw Postal Clerk, Bessie Smith serves a customer behind separation of plastic sheet, trying to insure some measure of protection.

Editor’s Note: The following information was provided by Ms. Iris Sermon, E911/EMS Director

On Sunday, March 29, 2020, a group of officials of Greene County met to discuss and share strategies that could assist in protecting local citizens and first responders regarding the COVID-19 Virus. To comply with Governor Kay Ivey’s mandate, the gathering was limited to the four Town Mayors, the County Commission Chairperson, the Greene County Health System CEO, Greene County Schools Superintendent, Chief of Police, Greene County Sheriff and Greene County E911/EMA Director.
Those in attendance also positioned themselves six feet apart as mandated for health security purposes.
The group noted that they did not call a public meeting because of the state and federal mandates limiting numbers that can gather and observing physical distancing because of the virus.
The officials agreed to continue to publicize, through various means, the seriousness of the COVID-19 Virus and the precautions and mandates the citizens must follow for the safety of all.

These include the following:

  • Stop Social Gatherings, including house and yard parties; youth gathering in groups in any location.
  • Practice Physical Distancing, stay 6ft. apart from others .
    Practice Safe Hygiene, wash your hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds or use sanitizer.
    Clean Surfaces Frequently, doorknobs, counter tops, telephones, eye glasses.
  • Stop Traveling, do not go in and out of infected areas. If you know of someone traveling to Greene County or in your area coming from emergency pandemic areas – ask them and inform them of the national mandate to isolate themselves for at least 14 days.
    Germs Live on Surfaces – 2 to 8 hours on aluminum; 8 hours on gloves; 24 hours on cardboard; 48 hours on stainless steel (example water faucets) 2 to 3 days on plastic (example water bottles); 4 days on glass; 4 days on wood.
    *If You Have Symptoms – coughs, fever, shortness of breath, contact your physician, local clinic of hospital for an appointment or call the testing line to arrange for testing (you will be screened) 1-888-264-2256. If line is busy continue to call.
    Currently there are three Greene County citizens confirmed with COVID-19 virus.
    Confirmed COVID-19 in our surrounding Counties: Marengo – 4, Pickens – 2, Sumter – 1; Tuscaloosa – 27. As a citizen you are not provided with the names, exact locations and/or addresses of COVID-19 infected persons, therefore it may be safe to treat each person as a possible carrier. Protect yourself and the community. Check with your local town officials for more specific plans regarding your safety.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell provides details of $2 trillion coronavirus relief package

Last week, Congress passed a sweeping $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which includes direct payments to individuals to help Alabama families and workers meet the economic challenges caused by this virus. Extraordinary times require an extraordinary federal response.

This third coronavirus relief bill includes:

• Direct payments of up to $1,200 for individuals that make $75,000 or less and head of households that make less than $112,500 a year.

• Joint tax-filers that make $150,000 or less will receive $2,400.

• Families and heads of household will receive an additional $500 per child.

• The Social Security Administration will share information for Social Security (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) beneficiaries with the IRS to help ensure these beneficiaries receive their direct payments,

• Up to 4 months of unemployment insurance and an additional $600 per week in federal benefits; states will be eligible to provide an additional 13 weeks of emergency unemployment benefits to workers.

• Expanded unemployment benefits, which allow access to part-time employees, the self-employed, gig workers and furloughed workers.

• $10 billion for the Small Business Association’s emergency grants of up to $10,000.

Here are a few questions my office has received about the coronavirus direct payments:

  1. Q: Who is eligible for direct payments?

A: Americans will receive a one-time direct payment of up to $1,200 for individuals that make $75,000 or less and head of households that make less than $112,500 a year. Joint tax-filers that make $150,000 or less will receive $2,400. Families and heads of household will receive an additional $500 per child. These payments will be made to those who do not file taxes and those who receive Social Security benefits.

The payment phases out at higher income levels depending on filing status and number of children (and reaches zero, for example, for a single filer with no children and annual income of $99,000).

  1. Q: When will the direct payments be distributed?

A: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will work to deliver direct payments quickly. For people who filed a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019, payment processing will be based on payment or address information already on file with the IRS. Electronic distributions will be automatic to an account the payee authorized January 1, 2018 or later. If you did not file income tax in 2018 or 2019,
You may need to contact IRS to fill out a simplified return showing that
you did not owe taxes for this period.

  1. Q: Do these direct payments need to be repaid?

A: No, direct payments do not need to be repaid.

  1. Q: How will direct payments be delivered?

A: Direct payments will be delivered automatically—by the IRS—to most Americans who file individual federal income tax returns. When available, electronic direct deposit will be used in place of mailing a physical check.

  1. Q: Many individuals don’t need to file a tax return. Are non-filers eligible for direct payments?

A: Yes. There is no earned income requirement to be eligible for a direct payments, but non-filers may need to take additional steps to receive their direct payments. The Social Security Administration will share information for Social Security (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) beneficiaries with the IRS to help ensure these beneficiaries receive an automatic payment. The IRS will conduct a public awareness campaign to reach other non-filers and provide them with information on how they can access direct payments.

 Many of you still have questions and concerns. Please continue to check in with Congresswoman Sewell’s Official Website Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for up to date information.

Newswire: African ministers foresee ‘ break the glass moment’ without major debt relief

African debt relief poster

Mar. 30, 2020 (GIN) – Multilateral lenders and investors are being asked to pony up a modest stimulus package that would halt the spread of the coronavirus in Africa and keep economies from crashing under the weight of debt-servicing costs.

African finance ministers, at a meeting last week, calculated that an injection of $100 billion – including $44 billion in debt-servicing wavers – would put off the likelihood of a recession and protect growth rates from falling further behind – now at 1.8% from 3.2% earlier this month.

Ken Ofori-Atta, chair of a World Bank-IMF committee called it a “break the glass moment.” The package is about 5% of the agreed upon stimulus package agreed to this week by U.S. legislators and signed by the President.

“There is a big likelihood of a recession,” said Bartholomew Armah of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) in a press interview. “Our previous forecast should be seen as conservative because it was done at a time when the actual number of (corona) cases in Africa was low.”

South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni put a fine point on the matter. “To say we are not trembling in our boots about what might be in the coming weeks and months is an understatement.”

Once a borrower from wealthy countries and institutions, Africa is now saddled with crushing debts to China ($143 billion), international debt markets ($55 billion), other banks, commodity traders and the so-called vulture funds.

An international activist group has seen it before. Inspired by universal faith traditions, Jubilee USA, a coalition of Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious groups, maintains that instead of paying debt, resources should go to reducing poverty and providing healthcare and education for those most in need.

“African finance ministers are right to call for a moratorium on all interest payments,” wrote Tim Jones of Jubilee UK, a partner group. “In the face of a huge health and economic crisis, halting debt payments is the fastest way to keep money in African countries.”

On news that the IMF will cancel some debt payments for poor countries, Jones wrote: “All poor countries that are being hit by the economic impacts of coronavirus need to benefit from this debt relief, regardless of the extent of the outbreak of the virus within their own country.

“Many countries are already in debt crisis and the economic impact of coronavirus is only going to make that worse. The IMF needs to ensure its loans are not used to bail out previous lenders, but instead help countries restructure debts. Otherwise, people will suffer through austerity and public spending cuts.”

Newswire: Jails, prisons struggle with spread of coronavirus

By Brianna Nargiso

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – As COVID-19 continues to spread globally and the U. S. has now become the first country to top 100,000 cases, prisons and jails across the country continue to house inmates and employees who have tested positive for the Coronavirus and authorities are desperately trying to abate the spread.
For example, due to the severity of the virus that had killed 32,137 around the world and 2,054 in the U. S. as of Sunday, March 29, The Board of Corrections, an agency providing oversight of New York City jails, urgently recommended that all people with a high risk of dying from the virus be released from the jail immediately. The board also asked that the jail take the necessary steps to significantly decrease the jail’s population immediately since social distancing has been among the keys to preventing the spread of the virus along with thorough hand washing and decontamination of surfaces.
In response to the recommendation, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio released 40 people from New York’s Rikers Island last Friday and another 23 people on Sunday who were considered at a high risk of dying from the virus.
De Blasio took to Twitter to tell New Yorkers “…an additional 200 being evaluated right now for release who have less than 90 days left in their sentences.”
However, the release of 63 people is just not enough to stop the spread of the virus, which easily moves from person to person and can also be contracted from surfaces and the environment where an infected person has coughed or sneezed. Therefore, advocates for the incarcerated are pressing authorities to do more.
Jails throughout the United States have followed similar precautions to protect inmates, staff and the general public:
As states struggle for answers and public health advocates encourage release of non-violent inmates endangered by the virus, the federal prison system on Sunday, announced its first death. Patrick Jones, 49, who was housed in a minimum security prison in Oakdale, La., has died from the virus after testing positive on March 19, according to widespread reports.
California has also begun releasing large numbers of inmates in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. According to the L.A Times, Los Angeles County reduced their jail population by 6 percent in February.
Pennsylvania, Maine, Texas, Illinois and Ohio have also begun releasing inmates amidst state outbreaks.
The Bureau of Prisons has suspended all visits for 30 days. Inmate transfers has also been with few exceptions.
Many inmates who are assumed to have had contact with the virus are being quarantined.
The New York City’s union for corrections officers have demanded to be given more protective materials like masks, gloves, soap and hand sanitizer.
According to NPR, Arizona and Minnesota prisons have waived copays charged for inmates seeking medical visits and waived fees for personal hygiene supplies amidst the outbreak.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said in a letter to The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), “Our incarcerated population faces severe threats to their health and safety every day, and BOP must prioritize and work diligently to improve prison conditions nationwide. As the country prepares for coronavirus, it is also incumbent upon BOP—in coordination with HHS—to prevent outbreaks and to safely and humanely treat all affected individuals.”

Newswire: Head of ‘Alabama Counts’ responds to questions on the 2020 Census

Compiled by Erica Wright, The Birmingham Times

Kenneth Boswell, director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, is chair of the Alabama Counts 2020 committee. He responded to these questions from The Birmingham Times.
BT: What impact does the recent coronavirus pandemic have on the Census efforts in Alabama?
Kenneth Boswell: The great thing about the 2020 Census is that it has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker. Notification letters from the Census Bureau to Alabama households began going out on March 12 and are continuing until March 20.
There are three ways to respond: online at http://www.my2020census.gov, by phone at 1-844-330-2020 or by paper form.
We are keeping in contact with the U.S. Census Bureau and know that they are monitoring the situation very closely. We anticipate any changes would likely be to the in-person follow-up by census workers to households who do not complete their census by April 30. Right now, that portion is scheduled to begin in May.
BT: How does the state plan to proceed with the Census in light of the pandemic?
Boswell: The census is something that is quick and easy to complete at home, so that is our main message right now. We have a statewide awareness campaign that includes TV, newspaper, radio, social media, billboard and digital messages. Some census-related events scheduled for the next couple weeks have been postponed, but we are adjusting accordingly and will continue to do everything we can to encourage all in Alabama to take their census.

BT: What’s the significance of the April 1, 2020 deadline with the Census?
Boswell: April 1 is simply what the Census Bureau calls Census Day. It is a symbolic day designed to encourage all who live in the United States to self-respond to their Census form. Right now, we are encouraging participation as soon as the invitation letters are received and by April 30 which is the designated self-response period before the Census Bureau follows up in person with those households who have not yet responded.

BT: How much does the state stand to lose in funding if there is an under count or drop in Census numbers? What are some of the programs that will be affected if that money is lost?
Boswell: Alabama receives about $13 billion in census-derived funding per year for important programs that support Alabama’s healthcare, schools, infrastructure and community services.
Here is a link to a study by George Washington University that details 55 federal programs linked to census data and their impact on Alabama: https://census.alabama.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/IPP-1819-3-CountingforDollars_AL.pdf
BT: Is there a certain percentage for example, 70-90 percent that the state has a goal to reach for the Census count?
Boswell: We are asking for maximum participation as close to 100 percent as possible. We must do better than the 72 percent participation rate that Alabama recorded in 2010.

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.

Newswire: House passes and President signs $2 Trillion stimulus package deal

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

The $2 trillion stimulus deal reached earlier by the Senate, was finally passed by the House on Friday, March 27.
President Trump is expected to immediately sign the massive legislation that promises to provide a much-needed shot in the arm for working and unemployed individuals, and small and big businesses.
The deal includes approximately $367 billion for small business loans administered through the Small Business Administration.

It also includes direct payouts to most Americans and more money and an extension of unemployment benefits.
Earlier, several civil rights organizations noted watching with vigilance as Senate negotiations and, later, voting in both chambers took place. “We know that when the economy goes into decline, people of color always bear the brunt,” said Teresa Candori, communications director for the National Urban League.
“We will be fighting to make sure the most vulnerable communities are not an afterthought.” The coronavirus is “an equal-opportunity pandemic,” stated Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
“If you think about (Hurricane) Katrina, if you think about other catastrophes, a lot of times, bailouts ended up taking care of the top, and then it trickles down to the people,” Campbell said.
“Our federal government has to be bold about responses as this is an ever-evolving pandemic that can become a real catastrophe for people’s daily lives.” Many said they’re reminded that the household wealth of communities of color declined during the 2008 recession.
They said those losses never recovered, and it’s led to fears that minorities will again suffer a severe and long-term hit as the nation battles COVID-19 and whatever the aftermath might present.
The agreed upon stimulus package includes one-time direct payments of $1,200 per adult who made $75,000 or less in 2019 and $2,400 for couples who made less than $150,000. An additional $500 will be added for each child. If individuals haven’t filed 2019 taxes, the payouts will be based on their 2018 returns.
The payments will phase out at a rate of $5 per every additional $100 in income over $75,000 in adjusted gross income for single adults, $112,500 for heads of household, and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly. The checks would be directly deposited into bank accounts if you included direct deposit information on your tax form. If you did not, your check would be mailed.
Lawmakers and President Trump have said they want the checks mailed by April 6. Still, because the Internal Revenue Service has reduced staff at all of its locations because of the coronavirus, many believe the checks may not go out until May.

Residents are not expected to have to fill out any forms or call the IRS because the government will automatically send payment based on information culled from a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
Meanwhile, with unemployment rates expected to approach 20 percent – and as much as 30 percent among minorities, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) emphasized the need for more available benefits and a more extended period.
Under the stimulus deal, the federal government adds $600 per week to the state benefits jobless workers currently receive. The deal adds four months to the 26-week limit that benefits are paid.
“It’s unemployment insurance on steroids,” Schumer proclaimed. “But, and most importantly, the federal government will pay your salary, your full salary, for now, four months.”
Michele Evermore, the senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, called the inclusion of the new unemployment provision, “unprecedented.Because this situation is so different, we have to break all the rules.”
The new stimulus also adds a “pandemic unemployment assistance program,” which provides jobless benefits to independent contractors, gig economy workers, and the self-employed, who typically don’t qualify for such assistance.
For small businesses, the stimulus means they will get $367 billion to keep making payroll even while workers are required to stay at home.
Businesses can apply for COVID-19 relief through the stimulus by visiting, http://www.sba.gov/coronavirus. The website is expected to become operational soon.

Newswire: Joseph Lowery: Veteran US civil rights leader dies aged 98

President Barack Obama awarding Dr. Joseph Lowery the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009

ATLANTA (AP) — The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, a veteran civil rights leader who helped the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and fought against racial discrimination, died Friday, a family statement said. He was 98.

A charismatic and fiery preacher, Lowery led the SCLC for two decades — restoring the organization’s financial stability and pressuring businesses not to trade with South Africa’s apartheid-era regime — before retiring in 1997.
Lowery, considered the dean of civil rights veterans, lived to celebrate a November 2008 milestone that few of his movement colleagues thought they would ever witness — the election of an African American president.
At an emotional victory celebration for President-elect Barack Obama in Atlanta, Lowery said, “America tonight is in the process of being born again.” An early and enthusiastic supporter of Obama over then-Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, Lowery also gave the benediction at Obama’s inauguration.

“We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union,” he said. “Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back; when brown can stick around; when yellow will be mellow; when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right,” Lowery prayed. “Let all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen! Say Amen! And Amen!”

In 2009, Obama awarded Lowery the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
In another high-profile moment, Lowery drew a standing ovation at the 2006 funeral of King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, when he criticized the war in Iraq, saying, “For war, billions more, but no more for the poor.” The comment also drew head shakes from then-President George Bush and his father, former president George H.W. Bush, who were seated behind the pulpit.

Lowery’s involvement in civil rights grew naturally out of his Christian faith. He often preached that racial discrimination in housing, employment and health care was at odds with fundamental Christian values such as human worth and the brotherhood of man.

“I’ve never felt your ministry should be totally devoted to making a heavenly home. I thought it should also be devoted to making your home here heavenly,” he once said.

Lowery remained active in fighting issues such as war, poverty and racism long after retiring, and survived prostate cancer and throat surgery after he beat Jim Crow. His wife, Evelyn Gibson Lowery, who worked alongside her husband of nearly 70 years and served as head of SCLC/WOMEN, died in 2013.
“I’ll miss you, Uncle Joe. You finally made it up to see Aunt Evelyn again,” King’s daughter, Bernice King, said in a tweet Friday night.
Lowery was pastor of the Warren Street Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama, in the 1950s when he met King, who then lived in Montgomery, Alabama. Lowery’s meetings with King, the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy and other civil rights activists led to the SCLC’s formation in 1957. The group became a leading force in the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.
Lowery became SCLC president in 1977 following the resignation of Abernathy, who had taken the job after King was assassinated in 1968. He took over an SCLC that was deeply in debt and losing members rapidly. Lowery helped the organization survive and guided it on a new course that embraced more mainstream social and economic policies.
Coretta Scott King once said Lowery “has led more marches and been in the trenches more than anyone since Martin.”
He was arrested in 1983 in North Carolina for protesting the dumping of toxic wastes in a predominantly black county and in 1984 in Washington while demonstrating against apartheid.
He recalled a 1979 confrontation in Decatur, Alabama, when he and others were protesting the case of a mentally disabled black man charged with rape. He recalled that bullets whizzed inches above their heads and a group of Klan members confronted them.
“I could hear them go ‘whoosh,'” Lowery said. “I’ll never forget that. I almost died 24 miles from where I was born.”
In the mid-1980s, he led a boycott that persuaded the Winn-Dixie grocery chain to stop selling South African canned fruit and frozen fish when that nation was in the grip of apartheid.
He also continued to urge blacks to exercise their hard-won rights by registering to vote.
“Black people need to understand that the right to vote was not a gift of our political system but came as a result of blood, sweat and tears,” he said in 1985.
Like King, Lowery juggled his civil rights work with ministry. He pastored United Methodist churches in Atlanta for decades and continued preaching long after retiring.
Born in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1921, Joseph Echols Lowery grew up in a Methodist church where his great-grandfather, the Rev. Howard Echols, was the first black pastor. Lowery’s father, a grocery store owner, often protested racism in the community.
After college, Lowery edited a newspaper and taught school in Birmingham, but the idea of becoming a minister “just kept gnawing and gnawing at me,” he said. After marrying Evelyn Gibson, a Methodist preacher’s daughter, he began his first pastorate in Birmingham in 1948.
In a 1998 interview, Lowery said he was optimistic that true racial equality would one day be achieved.
“I believe in the final triumph of righteousness,” he said. “The Bible says weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
A member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Lowery is survived by his three daughters, Yvonne Kennedy, Karen Lowery and Cheryl Lowery. He died at home in Atlanta from natural causes unrelated to the coronavirus outbreak, the family.

Errin Haines, a former staffer of The Associated Press, was the principal writer of this obituary.

The Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy: Standing Six Feet Apart so Alabamians Will Not Be Lying Six Feet Under

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Montgomery, AL – We, leaders in the SaveOurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy, are here on the steps of the Alabama Capitol standing up six feet apart so Alabamians will not have to be lying six feet under. We are profoundly concerned about the coronavirus pandemic here in Alabama.
We are deeply concerned that people who need tests cannot get tests. We are strongly concerned that rural hospitals have closed with even more on the verge of closing, and those that are there will not be able to be provide all the services that this coronavirus will require. We are deeply concerned for the health care – or profound lack of health care – for the working poor in our state. We were strongly concerned and vocal long before the coronavirus pandemic. We believe that the lack of health care for too many in Alabama will be exacerbated, not only during this pandemic but long after the pandemic.
We are in the biggest crisis this country has seen in a long time. Alabama is in its biggest crisis in a long time, and it is incumbent upon each of us to do what we can to deal with this crisis and the crisis that will follow. A data analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found Alabama ranks among the top six most at-risk states for its adult population. Forty-six percent of Alabama adults are at risk. If we do not address this head on now, many more Alabamians will get the coronavirus and too many will die when we could take steps now to prevent that. Therefore, we are here, standing six feet apart so fewer Alabamians will not be lying six feet under. We know we take a risk by being here, even with all of our precautions, but the risk of not standing up and speaking out now and not expanding Medicaid now is profoundly greater. That is why we are here.
Attorney Faya Toure said: “I have a friend who had all of the symptoms of the coronavirus but could not get a test because, after being in line for hours, they told her a doctor had to refer her. People without health insurance have a hard time getting a doctor who will refer them. We must have tests for every person who needs a test in every county in the state. If we expanded Medicaid, Alabamians would have a much greater chance of getting tests and saving lives. In addition, the Black Belt has been ignored throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and that has not changed. There are no reported cases in the Black Belt because there is no testing in the Black Belt. We can and must do better.”
John Zippert said: “I am Chair of the Board of the Greene County Hospital System. Rural hospitals in Alabama are struggling mightily just to exist. Too many have closed and more will be closing. Rural hospitals need to be able to provide these services while the coronavirus is raging but also be able to provide necessary services after the coronavirus pandemic has subsided. And it will only subside if we take action now. Medicaid expansion would protect rural hospitals and citizens in rural hospitals, and it cannot wait. In fact, it is long overdue in Alabama. There are 340,000 human beings in Alabama, most of them working poor, who would benefit from Medicaid expansion. We must do something immediately.”
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan said: “There are so many Alabamians at risk because they have compromised immune systems, autoimmune disorders, are mentally ill, have dementia, are in foster care, are in prison or jail or detention and more. There are already plans to triage these Alabamians when it comes to treatment of the coronavirus, which means they very well would not receive any treatment and many will die if Governor Ivey fails to take action. We must do what we can do in Alabama. And we can expand Medicaid now.”
Founder of the World Conference of Mayors and former State Representative and Mayor Johnny Ford said: “Too many people’s heath is at risk. Some people are even at risk for death. The coronavirus pandemic is increasing the risks to health and the risk of death. Fifty-five years ago today, on the last day of the Selma-to-Montgomery March, leaders spoke powerfully at this Capitol demanding voting rights. We are here today demanding that health care be a right as is it in all other developed countries. We begin with Medicaid expansion. I want to also add that it is has been the mayors of our state who have stepped up and taken the lead in protecting Alabamians during this coronavirus pandemic, and we thank them for their leadership, courage and wisdom.”
Attorney and former State Senator Hank Sanders said: “I was here 55 years ago today when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked the question, “How Long?” about voting rights and other rights. I and the rest of the massive crowd responded, “Not Long!” We are here today standing six feet apart so that Alabamians will not be lying six feet under. Dr. King asked, “How Long?” 55 years ago, and today we are asking, “How Long” will it be until Alabama expands Medicaid so that the working poor can have health insurance and health care so they can stand a chance to be tested and treated, not only during the coronavirus pandemic but afterwards? I hope and pray the answer to “How Long? is “Not Long!”

School board holds emergency meeting, confirming plans to provide for students during virus epidemic

Robert Brown Middle School personnel review instructional packets for students. Shown L to R: Principal Owens, 4th Grade Teacher, Annie Howard and Assistant Principal Harris.
Child Nutrition Program personnel distribute meals for students outside Robert Brown Middle School.
CNP school personnel gather meals packaged for distribution from Robert Brown Middle School.
LaTonya Fowler, Board’s Central Office personnel, assists in distributing food packets to children.

The Greene County Board of Education held an emergency meeting, Thursday, March 19, 2020, to consider resolutions joining the state and federal government in declaring an emergency due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus epidemic. The resolutions authorized the school superintendent to take all actions, including the provision of food for schools children and instructional materials consistent with the declared emergency and the needs of the Greene County Board of Education during this emergency from March 19, 2020 until further notice.
The resolutions adopted by the board also declare that schools are closed in compliance with Governor Kay Ivey’s order until further notice and the March 24, 2020 scheduled meeting of the board is also cancelled.
In his update to the board, Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones stated that during Spring break week of March 16, all school facilities were given a thorough cleaning and sanitizing stations were set up in classroom and hallways for the future return of students and personnel.
According to Dr. Jones, the school system will provide two meals per day for all students in the duration of the school shutdown. He indicated that USDA has authorized the school system to operate the food distribution comparable to the Summer Feeding Program which allows meals to be served to youth ages 1-18.
In compliance with Superintendent Jones guidance, each school has instituted plans for delivering food and instructional materials to students. In the food program, students are provided two meals each day with distributions scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Parents may drive to the schools for meals and some meals will be delivered to various designated venues in the community. The detailed delivery schedule is listed in this newspaper as well as on the school’s web site and other relevant social media.
For Greene County High School students, the majority of teachers sent enrichment activities via email or Google Classroom. A few teachers prepared instructional packets which were delivered on Monday.
Eutaw Primary School delivered instructional packets on Monday and Tuesday. Robert Brown Middle School had packets available for parents to pick up on Wednesday. Instructional packets can be delivered in any situation where parents are not able to come to the school.
Dr. Jones informed the board that the system will continue its financial obligations. Payroll and bills will be paid in a timely manner. Personnel not on direct deposit plans will have paychecks sent through postal mail. “Traditional business of the school system will be handled as efficiently as possible,” Jones stated. He clarified that usual bid laws can be suspended regarding emergency purchases.
Superintendent Jones indicated that no determination can be made at this time as to meeting schedules for particular school activities such as prom and graduation. “We just don’t know how long this medical emergency will last. I urged our community to take every precaution to keep safe and avoid contracting the virus.”