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Manufacturing moving, violence up amid pandemic

The Selma-Dallas County Coronavirus Community Coalition held its regularly-scheduled telephone town hall Tuesday at noon where, among the updates from local health experts, elected leaders, school officials and more, Selma-Dallas County Economic Development Authority (EDA) Director Wayne Vardaman stated that most of the area’s biggest manufacturers are still running at full-tilt and Robert Stewart, Black Belt Outreach Coordinator for U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-AL, noted that there has been an “uptick in violence” in local communities as a result of the quarantine.

Stewart was on of the first people to speak during Tuesday’s call and, after discussing the recent funding handed down to community health centers (CHCs) across Alabama’s 7th Congressional District via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, noted that there has been an increase in violence as communities grapple with the ongoing quarantine orders, as evidenced by the shooting in Selma over the weekend.

With that in mind, Stewart reported that Sewell plans to push for language in the upcoming fourth relief package to provide funding for organizations giving safe haven to victims of abuse.

Later in the meeting, Vardaman ran down a list of local manufacturers still operating at full steam, including Bush Hog, American Apparel, Henry Brick, R.L. Zeigler, Pepsi, H&S Wood Products and others.

A few companies, including Eovations, HLA and Plantation Patterns have had short furloughs or limited layoffs, but Vardaman is overall encouraged by the state of local manufacturing.

“The majority of our industries are essential and they are operating and they are exercising the hygiene requirements and also doing temperature checks,” Vardaman said. “All in all, we’re doing real well.”

Vaughan Regional Medical Center (VRMC) CEO David McCormack was also on the call.

“We have experienced COVID patients at the facility,” McCormack said. “Fortunately, none of them have passed away.”

According to McCormack, 11 COVID-19 patients have been treated at VRMC – three are currently in the hospital, where three ventilators are in use – but at least five cases that have been treated were from neighboring Wilcox County.

“I think if you look, our county is faring much better than some of the other county’s because our people are following [health guidelines],” McCormack said. “I think our county is doing a good job in all of this.”

A representative from MainStreet Family Care announced that the turnaround time for coronavirus testing results, which had been right around a week, has now dropped down to two or three days.

Further, MainStreet Family Care has received its Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funds and is now operating at normal business hours – Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Rural Health Medical Program (RHMP) Director Keshee Dozier-Smith stated that she is still awaiting personal protective equipment (PPE) and is working with different vendors to try to track some down.

Dozier-Smith noted that currently no facilities have been closed and no workers have been laid off.