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Sewell lauds Ivey for ‘measured’ approach to reopening state

Shortly after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s press conference Tuesday, in which she announced a new “Safer at Home” order that marks the start of a gradual reopening process for the state, U.S. Sen. Terri Sewell, D-AL, held a press conference and praised Ivey for taking a more “measured” approach than other states, which have rushed to reopen despite the ongoing pandemic.

Sewell noted that all of Alabama’s congressional delegation was charged with establishing a task force to develop a district-specific plan for reopening – as such, Sewell assembled a group of 50 people from the large and small manufacturing, retail, restaurant and healthcare sectors, among others, for her task force.

Sewell’s report was delivered last week and, during a call with the Selma-Dallas County Coronavirus Community Coalition earlier in the day, the congresswoman noted that she believes Ivey took the considerations to heart.

Sewell noted during the press conference that it will still be important over the coming “days and weeks ahead” to heed health orders by wearing protective gear and observing social distancing guidelines.

“I think that it’s going to be important that we continue to practice social distancing and continue to gauge hospitalizations and death rates and the number of cases we get in the days and weeks ahead,” Sewell said.

Sewell also discussed ongoing efforts to ensure that funding trickles down to small businesses, both in the recently-approved Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) extension and the upcoming, second Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a feat that proved difficult in the first round of funding.

In addition to ensuring that Main Street businesses, small businesses and minority businesses have access to relief funds, Sewell also emphasized the need for a focus on vulnerable and at-risk communities in upcoming legislation.

“All of us are quite concerned about the rising number of cases in vulnerable communities,” Sewell said. “Particularly in the African-American community.”

In a familiar refrain, Sewell asserted that amid the rising cost of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the need to expand testing to at-risk communities, now would be a good time for the state to consider expanding Medicaid, a notion she hopes to incentivize in future legislation.