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Alabama’s stay-at-home order, effective through at least April 30, “can be truly life-saving as we work to flatten the curve of this virus,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. The order to combat the spread of COVID-19 prohibits all non-work related gatherings of 10 people or more. Nonessential businesses remain closed.
People can still shop for groceries, see their doctor, get prescriptions filled, bank and pump gas.
They also can get restaurant takeout and some exercise walking, gardening and biking. However, being out and about requires that you keep your distance — staying at least 6 feet away from others since a significant number of people with the virus don’t have symptoms but can still transmit it. That’s why the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, like the grocery store.
AARP is providing information and resources to help older residents and their caregivers protect themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a list of some of those and other helpful resources.
AARP Coronavirus Response - Aggressive steps are being taken during the outbreak to inform and protect older Americans. AARP's site provides the latest advice and resources, including a weekly live Coronavirus Information Tele-Town Hall on Thursdays at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Join by calling toll-free 855-274-9507.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has up-to-date information on symptoms and what to do if you think you may have COVID-19. Also check out the CDC’s YouTube video: COVID-19: What Older Adults Need to Know.
The state of Alabama has launched the website altogetheralabama.org — an online resource that can direct people needing help to local, state and national resources, as well as offering ways that Alabamians can help others during this time.
The Alabama Department of Public Health provides a daily status report on all confirmed cases and deaths from coronavirus in the state and health information on the disease, including who is most at risk of contracting it and how to prevent its spread. You can also follow the health department’s COVID-19 updates on Facebook and Twitter. For more information, visit the COVID-19 Information Hub at covid19.alabama.gov, where you can ask a question and receive an answer in real time, and also check out the FAQ page. If you still have questions, you can email email@example.com or call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-270-7268. Calls are answered from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily.
Testing: The COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard provides a list of testing sites. The facilities have reported to the Alabama Department of Public Health that they are collecting specimens for COVID-19. Not all sites are listed. Call the testing site for additional information before visiting or telephone a 24-hour hotline at 888-264-2256 for sites and hours of operation.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has created a database to track the spread of the virus. The public is being asked to help by registering at their site, whether they have symptoms or not.
The Alabama Department of Senior Services provides resources for home- and community-based services, as well as the office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, which handles complaints about long-term care facilities. The department also investigate reports of elder abuse and exploitation. It can be reached by at 800-243-5463.
Like the virus, misinformation and scams can easily spread. The Federal Emergency Management Agency sets the record straight on some of the myths surrounding COVID-19. The Federal Trade Commission has information on scams and a way for you to report if someone is trying to scam you.
Apple and the CDC have developed a self-assessment tool that guides users through a series of questions about their health and exposure to determine if they should seek care for virus symptoms. Users can answer the questions as themselves or for a family member. You can download the free app from Apple's App Store or on Google Play or access the tool online at www.apple.com/covid19.
Many news outlets, including the Montgomery Advertiser, The Anniston Star and The New York Times have dropped their paywalls of coronavirus coverage so readers can stay informed of new developments.
Help with food, meals and additional services
Special store hours: Older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk for more severe complications from COVID-19, according to the CDC. Many grocery stores have responded with special hours exclusively for these groups, including the following:
Aldi: 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays for older people and those with underlying health concerns.
Costco: 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday for members 60 and older and for those with physical impairments. The pharmacy will be open during this time.
Kroger: 7 a.m. – 8 a.m. Monday through Thursday for shoppers 60 and older.
Publix: 7 a.m. – 8 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays for shoppers 65 and older. The Publix Pharmacy will be open to serve older customers.
Target: Wednesdays. Will reserve the first hour of shopping for older adults and those with underlying health concerns. Visit Target.com to find your local store opening time.
Walmart: Tuesdays. Will open an hour earlier for customers 60 and older. Pharmacies and vision centers will be open at this time. Check your local store for opening time.
Whole Foods: Shoppers 60 and older can shop one hour before stores open to the general public. Store hours vary by location.
Winn-Dixie: 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Monday through Friday for older people and high-risk shoppers.
The Alabama Food Bank Association is a network of food banks. The Montgomery Area Food Bank allows residents to go to their website, put in their zip code and find the nearest food pantry. Information changes daily so call before going. The City of Montgomery has also established a food access hub offering an interactive map that lists providers offering free meals to students and others in need.
Meals on Wheels also provides food for older Alabamians in virtually every community.
United Ways of Alabama supports 211 Connects Alabama, where individuals can find assistance with everything from food resources and housing, to information on health care services and testing facilities.
The Eldercare Locator can help connect you to services for older adults and their families statewide.
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) helps low-income families purchase food. Find out how to apply through MyDHR. Find out if you are eligible for SNAP or other food benefits by going to BenefitsCheckUp.org and completing a free, confidential screening.
The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs has important coronavirus-related information for veterans, including office closures.
To track your stimulus check: The IRS has launched the Get My Payment tool so people can track their COVID-19 relief payment.
Unemployment assistance: If you are unable to work due to COVID-19, you could be eligible for unemployment benefits. Workers can file for benefits online or by calling 866-234-5382. The Alabama Department of Labor’s COVID-19 web page has more information. If you have lost your job, you also may need to explore insurance options.
Many banks are assisting financially-strapped customers in a number of ways, including fee waivers; deferred payments for credit cards, auto loans and mortgages; loan modifications; low-rate and zero-rate loans and other accommodations.
Many utilities, phone companies and internet service providers are suspending disconnects during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are having a hard time paying your bills, check with your provider to see if they will help.
Additional resources and information
The isolation required to stop the spread of COVID-19 can take an emotional toll. AARP offers advice on how to handle anxiety during the outbreak.
Caregivers may be carrying COVID-19 and not know it because they don’t have symptoms. If you are caring for an older person, you can take extra steps to avoid spreading the virus in case you are a carrier.