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Coalition report: Census responses low in county

The Selma-Dallas County Coronavirus Community Coalition held its weekly telephone town hall Tuesday at noon, during which Collins Pettaway III, a representative for the U.S. Census Bureau, reported that Dallas County’s participation in the census is thus far underwhelming.

According to Pettaway, Dallas County currently has a census response rate of 46.7 percent, about five percent below the state average, and efforts are desperately needed to encourage participation in Minter, Sardis, Tyler, Orrville and other small communities across the county.

“It is very important that we are pushing census participation,” Pettaway said, nothing that both federal funding and congressional representation are on the line.

Elsewhere in the meeting, a representative for MainStreet Family Care reported that all of the company’s clinics are offering antibody testing to anyone interested in having it as a result of a partnership with Lab Corp, though it is currently unclear how much the testing will cost or if it will be covered by insurance – the representative reported that a similar approach was taken when viral swabs were distributed, as the company sought to get them out quickly while still ironing out billing details.

A representative from Rural Health Medical Program (RHMP) reported that the company is now setting up drive-thru testing in all of the counties it serves, partnering with regional hospitals to manage the sites, and that a pilot testing site was recently launched in Perry County.

The Perry County testing site, which conducted 30 tests, will be evaluated as RHMP officials look to smooth out the process before testing sites are launched regionally in the coming days and weeks.

Elsewhere in the meeting, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-AL, reported on a collaborative effort with Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s office, Walmart and Quest Diagnostics to provide testing in areas across the Black Belt, including Selma, Thomasville, Demopolis and more.

According to Sewell, testing will take place in Selma at Memorial Stadium Mondays and Fridays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Sewell also applauded Ivey’s decision to slowly reopen the state’s economy, adding that she believes some the recommendations included in her recent report were taken to heart in advancing a tiered reopening.

Dallas County Circuit Court Judge Collins Pettaway Jr. reported that courts are still open and have been throughout the pandemic, though proceedings have moved to virtual hearings – no in-person hearings will be held until June and no jury trials will be held until August.

Pettaway noted that there is a possibility that the virus might crop up again in the Fall and plans – those concerning the courts and everything else – are subject to change.