Virus Outbreak Alabama

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey speaks as State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey and State Health Officer Scott Harris, right, wait to speak during a coronavirus news conference in Montgomery, Ala., Friday, March 13, 2020.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Department of Public Health on Monday urged people to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people, unless they can maintain a 6-foot distance between others, to limit spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

The advice follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, State Health Officer Scott Harris said.

Harris said restaurants are urged to keep a 6-foot (2-meter) distance between tables and limit admittance to 50 percent of capacity. Harris said people attending weddings and funerals should also try to maintain 6-foot (2-meter) distance. He said workplaces may not be able to maintain the distances but should try whenever possible.

Senior citizens, and those with health problems, should be more careful, Harris said. Senior adults or those with chronic health problems should avoid gatherings, outside of close family, of 10 or more people, and should avoid travel by air, train or bus, the state health department said.

"I think if we all cooperate, if we all manage to do this then we will have a little bit of time where we are inconvenienced and uncomfortable but I know we will come out OK on the other side," Harris said.

Alabama now has 22 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Monday morning, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Twelve of the cases were found in Jefferson County. Harris said that is not surprising because that is the state's largest county and also has more testing sites.

Harris said there is no reason for a person to seek a test unless they have symptoms.

"I do want to remind Alabamians that you absolutely do have the power to protect yourself and protect your family. The normal social distancing items that we've been mentioning for several weeks now are what you can do," Harris said.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Sunday said state employees should be begin working from home when possible. The governor told department heads to implement flexible work schedules. Other employees may be placed on paid emergency leave.

Employees should plan to return to regular work schedules on April 6, Ivey said on Twitter Sunday.

For most people, coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. People with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover, according to the World Health Organization.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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