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Governor’s office: State order trumps ‘less stringent’ orders

The Selma-Dallas County Coronavirus Community Coalition held its second meeting by phone conference Tuesday at noon, during which health officials, elected leaders and others provided a brief update on ongoing efforts to fight COVID-19 locally and across the region.

During a question and answer session toward the end of the meeting regarding the 9 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew imposed by Selma Mayor Darrio Melton’s recently-issued quarantine order, Dave White, a representative for Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s office, noted that the governor’s “stay at home” order issued Friday only overrides local orders that are “less stringent” than local laws.

When the question was first posed, Selma City Attorney Major Madison noted that the mayor issued a “quarantine order” as opposed to a curfew, which carries additional legal implications, and that the order would trump the mayor’s order.

Dallas County Circuit Court Judge Collins Pettaway Jr. chimed in, noting that he would view the governor’s order as overriding the local order, but White noted that the governor’s order explicitly states that it will only override local orders “less stringent” than the state order – therefore, stricter policies in the local order will not be impacted by the state order.

Elsewhere in the meeting, Dallas County Sheriff Mike Granthum reported that his office has recently seen a decline in major crimes, but has seen a significant increase in thefts at places like Dollar General and Walmart – the sheriff reported that more officers have been deployed to patrol those areas to apparent success.

Granthum also noted that, despite rumors to the contrary, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) is not emptying its jail – some low-level offenders, those in jail for fines and other minor infractions, have been allowed to make bond, but no one who has committed a violent crime has been released.

Of the 160 inmates currently in the Dallas County Jail, only 10 met the criteria to be released.

Elsewhere in the meeting, Alabama Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier, D-Selma, pressed on the need for people in the Black Belt, whose communities lack the resources of more metropolitan areas in the state, to follow guidelines laid out by health officials.

“We cannot do business as usual,” said Sanders-Fortier. “We’ve got to look out as neighbors for one another.”

Sanders-Fortier also urged small business owners and laid-off workers to apply for assistance as soon as possible.

“We need our economy to be flourishing once this is over,” Sanders-Fortier said. “Do not wait until the last minute, go ahead and get those applications in now.”

MainStreet Family Care noted that it has added a televisit option for primary and urgent care needs and is still conducting COVID-19 testing Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m.

Rural Health Medical Program (RHMP) CEO Keshee Dozier-Smith noted that the health center is likewise doing telehealth visits and accepting new patients and though tests are forthcoming, a scheduled delivery of personal protective equipment has been delayed until after April 15.