SOS places body bags on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery to symbolize the disparate healthcare impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and the need for Medicaid Expansion

As of June 3, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Alabama had 18,717 confirmed cases of
coronavirus, with 653 deaths
Greene County had 95 confirmed cases
with 4 deaths
Sumter County had 227 confirmed cases with 7 deaths
and Hale County had 182
cases with 9 deaths

Montgomery, AL – The Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy held an Alabama State Capitol Body Bag Memorial Caravan as well as a press conference on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol on Thursday, May 28, 2020. The caravan and press conference included body bags to symbolize and memorialize all the lives lost and the lives that will be lost in Alabama due to COVID-19 as well as additional deaths due to state leaders’ failure to take action to expand Medicaid.
SOS placed ten body bags to symbolize the over 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic. These body bags also represented the 700 or more people dying each year in Alabama from the failure to expand Medicaid and provide health care to 340,000 working poor people.
SOS Direct Action Committee Chair Faya Rose Toure said: “Alabama has been all over the national and state news for more than a week. This is because COVID-19 cases are spiking in our state, deaths are increasing and many hospitals are full. In Montgomery, a city with three major hospitals, people have been told to go to Birmingham for care due to the fact ICU beds have filled. These body bags we have with us today are symbolic of all of the unnecessary deaths taking place in this state. The tragic thing is there will be many more unnecessary deaths and many more body bags if action is not immediately taken.”
World Conference of Mayors Founder Johnny Ford said: “We are again calling on the federal government to do whatever is necessary to make sure that all the resources necessary for testing and tracing are available in Alabama and also to make sure they are directed to those most in need, whether they are on the front lines, whether they live in minority communities and more. The federal government must act forcefully right now. Too must time has already been wasted, and we cannot afford to waste another second while more body bags are filled with people who could and should still be alive.”
Community Advocate Karen Jones said: “We must all wear masks when we are out in public, and businesses should mandate that their employees and customers wear masks. Masks are not a political issue. They are a life and death issue. Masks are for everyone’s safety, so MASK UP ALABAMA for the health of everyone! These body bags on the steps of the Capitol represent the deaths of hundreds of people in Alabama because, as of today, there have been 583 deaths in our state attributed to the coronavirus, and doctors believe there are even more. There are also more than 16,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alabama. We do not want to see any more body bags filled with Alabama bodies. So mask up Alabama! Also while the expansion of Medicaid cannot stop the virus now, expanding Medicaid can reduce the number of deaths. We must stop every single death that we can. And we must expand Medicaid – for now and for the future!”
Dr. Joe Reed, Chair of the Alabama Democratic Conference, said: “If the State of Alabama does not want to take federal money to expand Medicaid then it should be consistent and refuse all the other federal money Alabama takes. Every year Alabama takes billions more in federal dollars than it gives to the United States. For every one dollar, Alabama and Alabamians pay in federal taxes, our state and its people get back $61.56 from the federal government. Alabama has always been a taker state. Alabama needs to be consistent and take the federal funds to expand Medicaid now and improve the health and save of the lives of the people of the state. Alabama can do it now it if it wants to do it.”
Chair of the Greene County Health Systems John Zippert said: “I have watched doctors from across the state tell heartbreaking stories of what they and their patients are personally facing in fighting COVID-19 in Alabama. And these have not been doctors at rural hospitals. I know firsthand the dire situation rural hospitals in Alabama deal with every day and have been dealing with long before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Governor Ivey has opened up large parts of Alabama, and, with that, Alabama pulmonologists, infections disease specialists and other doctors anticipate more patients contracting the virus, requiring hospitalization and dying from COVID-19 in our state. The danger has been real for a long time, but it is becoming even more dangerous now. If Alabama does not expand Medicaid, our leaders will be responsible for many more deaths and hospital closures that could be avoided.”
Rev. Kenneth Glasscow of the Ordinary Peoples Society in Dothan and SOS Justice Committee Co-chair stated,” We must be concerned about the special problems of people in our jails and prisons. The State of Alabama and local jurisdictions should be releasing non-violent and elderly inmates who are in danger of contracting and dying from the coronavirus because there is no way to practice social distancing in our jails and prisons. We must also condemn the State of Alabama for accepting more Federal funds for policing but not for Medicaid expansion to heal the sick and injured.”
Attorney and former state Senator Hank Sanders said: “In Alabama, we always find money to do what we want to do. We can find the money to expand Medicaid, even during this pandemic. We could have and should have done it years ago, but we must now do it during these times. And in doing so, we would also lift Alabama in so many ways – including tens of thousands of jobs, saved hospitals, healthier Alabamians and much more. Most importantly, we would have fewer deaths of Alabamians. We would save lives.”