Skip to main content
Global Edition
Sunday, May 16, 2021

State of Emergency: One Year of COVID-19 in Alabama

Credit: WAAY ABC Huntsville, AL
Duration: 0 shares 4 views
State of Emergency: One Year of COVID-19 in Alabama
State of Emergency: One Year of COVID-19 in Alabama
A look back at a year unlike any other in North Alabama

The following is a special presentation of wave 31 News state of emergency one year of covid-19 in Alabama an unprecedented year no one really saw up front of the twists and turns that the pendant was going to take the covid-19 virus Unleashed economic disruption and massive human suffering Statewide more than ten thousand deaths more than half a million cases covid-19 trainging lives and forcing a new normal in a roll with the punches and do the best job that I can do in the midst of the chaos a ray of hope to get it as soon as you can we 31 Dives deep into the pandemics impact the changes and sacrifices we all made and what's next with vaccinations underway good evening of Dan Schaefer we're all here as we bring you this special report state of emergency one year of covid-19 in Alabama on one interview with the decision-makers who work tirelessly to stop the place will look into the lives forever changed by the pandemic that's Florence artist and Grandma Jam Roblin giving one of her grandkids a big hug something her son Benji and his family won't be able to do it again so Mama proud of you I love you you have fought this virus you're so strong but just relax and just know that I love you more than anything and you're the best mom and I'll see you soon and she she died an hour and a half later and here is Johnson Trousdale a grandpa and father who was the first person to die of coronavirus in Lauderdale County what kind of empty spot you know you're used to every night.

For supper right after supper making a phone call and and he's not there to make that phone call to the virus took some of our front-line workers here in the shoals to nurses a bus driver and a police officer somebody said something about replacing that's why we can't replace him when get someone to take his place but there's no replacing a guy like Walter pieces do you can't replace Johnson is still Irreplaceable and there's a hole in the town who still misses him that same pain is felt at Carteret County schools with the loss of bus driver Bobby Stutz and at the hospitals even those caring for the sick couldn't escape the viruses grip someone with multiple times through the years I naturally and beloved across-the-board Jennifer McClung a nurse and Mom they lost and here is Rebecca haddock a mother of two young boys a wife and nurse at the north Alabama Medical Center in Florence both nurses lost their battles within a month of each other very much a Hands-On mom and so involved in her little boy's life and I just hope I hope everybody knows that and says that we're all we're all vulnerable to this disease we're on the front lines and you know we are called Heroes and we don't look at ourselves as Heroes we are very much not Heroes If We Were Heroes we wouldn't be sick each person is so much more than a number on a dashboard there's someone we know someone we love and where someone's world a world rocked by a virus that takes it will in the shoals breken Terry White 31 News Alabama had a morbid milestone in covid-19 deaths March 3rd and that's when the state tops 10,000 death that's one of America's highest per capita death rates despite that hundreds of thousands of Alabama and survive their brush with covid-19 at 57 years old Anthony Tyler devotes his days to regaining fundamental functions of his body I couldn't stand Tyler tested positive for the coronavirus in August of 2020 his wife called 911 one not concerned about his worsening symptoms in another room full weeks later I spent four weeks on a ventilator There Was X I didn't think I would make it I understand what he said in Psalms 23 we said yeah I'll walk through the valley of the shadow of death I understand that scripture No lot better than I ever have Tyler awoke to the painful realization that the virus had robbed him of his ability to walk eat on his own remove his hands and arms after weeks in the hospital Tyler move to Encompass Health to regain his strength occupational therapist Jenny Cisco was part of the team tasked with his Rehabilitation very early on just getting from laying in the bed to sitting at the side of the bed was excruciating it was difficult and very painful and very anxiety-driven because he was relying on us meet another therapist to to get him to that position cuz he had no way to do it himself terrified will I ever walk am I going to be like yes or rest of my life you go through your mind am I going to be a burden to my family and my going to be a burden to my wife you know all these things play over in your head but at the same time when you think about bottle give you a reason to fight and get up after 11 weeks of intense therapy a major breakthrough in December Anthony Tyler walked out of Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital the hose line with cheering staff and patients who shared and his journey it was a love so there it was a good time something we've been waiting on for a while the hallways were lying to everybody knew this man we were so excited that he got to go home Tyler told me that to this day he is not 100% the use of my arms and hands like I'm going to he continues his physical therapy at home and remains optimistic about his future I am going to be able to do two things with my family that I've always done Tyler told me he has a grandson that's 2 years old he looks forward to the day he can move his arms and hands freely again and hold him over the past year we've all dealt with a lot of changes today marks 238 days since Governor Ivey mandated people wear masks in public we've also seen schools make tough decisions to keep students safe as well as educated way pretty ones Megan rain at talk with Educators about those challenges and what's ahead for 15 years Alexander Murcia or mr. murchie has been taking a ride through the world of education do roach bombs here in there then comes 20/20 this year has offered a lot of challenges but that's kind of fun of it is find the solutions to the challenges schools across the u.s. quickly School leaders how to figure out a way to serve their students mainly relying on technology Marcia High School teacher at New Century Inn Huntsville pet deposit about look through it all in fact he was a student himself during this time the transition from traditional classroom to Virtual not only as a teacher but as a student as well and graduate school when was that each of the students were receding Equitable education to this day he is still teaching both virtually and in-person roll with the punches and do the best job that I can do across the county and you'll find more key Clement with a classroom filled with students this is the Madison County High School teachers 6 years in education when we left March 13th and we kind of just said okay we're not sure how we're going to create a plant limit knew her students were capable of learning technology but it wasn't their grade she was concerned with more are you okay at home are you eating lunch everyday are you able to talk about how you're feeling when did Plymouth began teaching vote in person in virtually but even then that presented its own set of challenges every kid deserves 100% I don't think anyone's arguing that but how do you give a hundred percent if you're working in class and filming and Grading digitally and Grading in person it's just it's a major task and so that was the most overwhelming in the point where I went okay eventually the past and but teaching and person came with wrist and Clement knew that I one point this semester she contracted covid-19 but at the same time I feel like it's important the kids are in school all the challenges thrown out these Educators neither Marcia or Clement plan to leave education anytime soon honestly I just love teaching I love making a difference in these kids lives again but our time is put into investing in kids until you kind of propelling society Ford next door look at how Alabama arrived at this point in the pandemic and you'll hear how Governor Ivey Grey's herself on Guiding the state through these unprecedented times state of emergency one year of covid-19 in Alabama for many of us the past year feels like a blur but we ever had a positive case in Alabama Governor Kay Ivey created a state covid-19 task force on March 6th one week later the state confirmed its first case in Montgomery, we have taken measures and made preparations in the case that this virus would have been chewing it reach our state the pandemic became deadly nearly two weeks later at Jackson County resident died from the virus on March 25th the next day Governor Kay Ivey announced that all public schools would close for the rest of the year at that point the state had recorded 36 cases on April 4th that states a stay-at-home order went into effect shutting down non-essential businesses the stay-at-home order lifted on April 30th becoming a safer at home order schools and restaurants remained closed the governor extended that order several more times loosening restriction every few months on May 11th restaurants in Jim's reopened at limited capacity on May 22nd schools child care facilities and entertainment venues did the same at that point the summer search began by early June the state was consistently adding more than 1,000 new cases daily on July 15th the governor announced a Statewide mask order requiring most people to wear a face covering at all times in public responsibilities at home order which included the mask mandate was extended again several times originally set to expire on July 31st it was extended to August 31st than October 2nd and again to November 8th hospitalizations Pete at an all-time high of 1613 on August 6th and November the safer at home order was relaxed again well masks were still acquired the amended order allowed businesses to increase occupancy if they were able to install physical barriers between customers but by this point the holidays surge was beginning and this one was more devastating than the summer we really are in a difficult time right now in Alabama this is a very challenging time and and we're looking at some pretty dark days for the foreseeable future the governor again extended the modified safer at home order in December and in January in the middle of the holiday surge which would ultimately Spike with more than 3,000 hospitalizations Statewide some relief arrived Pfizer vaccine doses arrived in Alabama on December 14th the next day doctors and nurses rolled up their sleeves to become the first to get it as the state launched its roll out fast forward to mid-march the vaccine distribution is in full swing now with mass vaccination clinics going on all across the state hospitals have resumed elective surgeries in students are back in school the week of March 1st Alabama administered its 1 millionth covid-19 vaccine dose and on March 4th the governor extended the State's mascot her for what she says will be the final time on April 9th the state safer at home order will expire Paving the way for Alabama's move into the next phase of our return to normal and now one year later and only right here and wait 31 news I can did Governor Kay Ivey opening up about her tough decisions mistakes and even hope for Alabama vocabulary how could we forget one year ago and these six words right after the governor issued a restrictive stay-at-home order to try to reduce the spread of coronavirus Governor Ivey believes she mostly made the right calls mostly I think we've done amazingly well you and the circumcision yet she does have some regrets like her decision to reluctantly shutdown many businesses bubble States didn't close to him and sure enough they hadn't come back so that was a mistake and I won't ever do that again the governor loosened up the reins allowing for a responsible reopening but despite her personal feelings she still impose a mandatory mask mandate that much before personal responsibility than a government-mandated today.

Mask order led to Growing chance against the governor of Big Brother more specifically mean that you have to do what's best for alabamians and let the chips fall where they will and it makes him feel good to call me going to lose anyone to the deadly disease she feels deeply for those who did sympathy and empathy due to the cold in and just pray it never comes back again.

From happening the governor wants more as she calls it vaccine shots in the arm doing real well with his family what we have but we just don't have enough yet we just need more vaccines if we've learned a lot of going along but we making progress and you still in headed in the right direction Saint good giving her Administration a better than average grade so I want to know about a bee while acknowledging there's more room for improvement Alabama State Health officer helped guide the governor's decision making I asked dr. Scott Harris about the tough decisions that were made to protect the public health we're not surprised to have additional cases and we have been expecting this for some time where you were when you first learned of covid-19 for a meeting of other State Health officers and that's when we learned we had the first case in the United State I have to say we all sorta felt at the same time like like the world had changed and not in a good way not many Americans know what it was like to be on the front lines of the covid-19 pandemic Alabama State Health officer dr. Scott Harris folk handedly with me during the socially distanced interview about what he's learned in the last year gone in and I really had very little time to try to sit back in and get a perspective on it it it feels like every minute we're trying to put out a fire Here There and there's just a lot of things still happening I almost too fast for us to keep up there anything else that could even be remotely close to what we're dealing with X I think I don't think there's there in the rear few people living that that they have in any have ever seen anything like this early on he said we strategies that would help slow the spread it was like pulling teeth to get people to do them the safety and health of all alabamians is Paramount with with all the decisions and then some people aren't happy with any decisions at all moving forward through all of this I would certainly say that it's surprising that though the facts don't always win the argument you know you would think that things like numbers are pretty straightforward and that they would they would be convincing anyone when you're trying to describe a situation and yet they're not our direction from the beginning is to use the best science we have available make the best decisions we can to protect people's health and safety where do you see us going from here as a state auditor going to get us there you know why I don't want people to forget we we've lost 10,000 Alabama's to this disease in thousand of our friends and neighbors and loved ones the Mandate itself is going away on April 9th but that doesn't change the medical advice which is do what you need to do to be safe please hang in there a little bit longer and keep your your loved ones safe Alabama Medical leaders battles on the front lines of this pandemic to keep you safe next still look at the work still ahead as more people get vaccinated and what the coming months hope for us all state of emergency one year of covid-19 in Alabama weather this crisis thanks in large part to Dedicated leaders in healthcare and government who worked tirelessly behind the scenes right from the start even before our first confirmed covid-19 case it was all hands on deck really we've worked almost every day 7 days a week we weren't sure what to expect so that first probably first two months we were talking on a daily basis and into Saturdays and Sundays also too familiar faces to waay-31 few hours Huntsville mayor Tommy battle and Huntsville Hospital infectious disease specialists Dr Ali hassoun the mayor calls 2020 official you'd like to throw back at the same time he's incredibly proud of how his City reacted to and met the challenges of this past 12 months with him and filled it with plans predicaments suggestions and solutions it's something he's done before and I've got a book home when we had the tornadoes come through and you know when we had more than one of my notes from H1 N1 times because this this helps when the next one comes along will have something to look at being prepared having that Playbook is what is helping battle in his team meet and beat this challenge for dr. hassoun and his team the virus itself was the problem symptoms diagnosis treatment we're all changing on an almost daily basis but they learned and adjusted as they went assume credits this community and science for pulling us through even so he's worried about the next time but I think we better way for public health to be supported to have better structure as well as to be better funded so we can deal with this much much better is proud of this community and how we survive even thrived lifting each other up through some of the worst times in memory of everybody pulled together and that was a magic of it looking ahead battle is Confident by summer will be looking at kovan throughout rearview mirror and then look out we all better be ready for for for a great second half of this year because I think people can be ready to get out years ago the mayor spearheaded an effort to install high-speed fiber-optic internet all around the city he says that allowed high-tech employees to continue to work from home and help keep our economy going through the pandemic hospitals across North Alabama treated hundreds of patients over the past year none had more patience than North Alabama's biggest hospital system I spoke with your David Spiller is about the challenges hospital staff faced he reflected on where things started and where we are in the fight against the virus today Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers told me the coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything hospital staff could have anticipated it appeared that they were going to be huge numbers of people that needed Critical Care beds in and respirators and those types of things and some people were protecting we were to have to put up field hospitals and we're going to run out of beds to remember Lena's process a lot of our effort was put into getting people into getting him tested opened up the flu and Cleveland Clinic ran testing sites all over the Community Builders told me hospital leadership work to make sure that staff had the personal protective equipment they needed to do the job safely this at a time when there was a nationwide shortage of masks and gloves then a major setback run a virus cases spiked after the holiday season I think the longer we were in the pandemic the more comfortable people felt being around family members even though there was no reason to treat a family member any different than anyone else January it hit the hospital staff hard 350 and 400 people that work for us out with covid-19 remember with Kobe it's all the sudden you're asking those people who are here to pick up extra shifts and do some things that maybe not in had not gone before we had to reconfigure a lot of our floors in the hospital so that we could accommodate a very large number of Kobe patient the trickle-down impact was was pretty significant throughout our community and then and the darkest of times hope I think we're all excited when the Pfizer vaccine was finally approved and available to us along with some moderna vaccine I think one of the reasons that hospitalizations have come down substantially it we've been able to get vaccines to the people who are most likely to end up in a hospital everyone's life was touched by this virus and some way for almost all of us it will never be quite the same to show you that already came together Define innovative ways to battle this pandemic and save lives but the Fight Continues 19 in the US 31 news for more than 60 years North Alabama has for trusted news weather and information, you can count on Bonaire online on your phone waay-31


Related news coverage


More coverage