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Personal responsibility is the name of the game in Alabama with the latest expansion to the COVID-19 Safer at Home Order recently issued by Gov. Kay Ivey and Dr. Scott Harris, which included a timeline for youth athletic practices and competition.

“Having a life means having a livelihood,” Ivey said. “We have to balance looking out for people’s health and their economic health.”

Ivey and Harris emphasized the importance of personal responsibility as they announced businesses and activities allowed to reopen or resume, starting on Friday, May 22, lasting through July 3. The list includes child daycare facilities, summer camps and entertainment venues like bowling alleys and theaters. Educational facilities may also open on June 1.

Athletic practices were allowed starting May 23, and competitions will be allowed starting June 15.

All changes are subject to social distancing and sanitation guidelines.

Harris said when possible, people should stay home unless it’s necessary.

During the Thursday news conference announcing the changes, Ivey and Harris, the state’s health officer, included details on COVID-19 hotspots around the state, including Montgomery where intensive care units were operating at capacity.

Ivey also talked about the half million Alabama residents who filed for unemployment in the past two months. More than $1 billion in unemployment claims were paid, she added.

“There’s a lot of hurt and pain out there,” Ivey said.

On a positive note, Ivey said the State’s Department of Public Health struck a deal with Apple and Google to use their contact tracing capabilities to track people who may have been exposed to the virus using a Bluetooth signal. It will allow tracing to when and where someone was exposed.

“Hopefully this will be an important new tool in our toolkit,” she said, noting most Alabamians have cellphones with them most of the time.

Ivey also said while a worldwide effort is underway to find a cure or vaccine for COVID-19, she expressed confidence in the possibility of a vaccine being “developed right here in Sweet Home Alabama.”

Harris said by allowing more businesses to open and activities resume doesn’t mean Alabama is out of the woods where COVID-19 is concerned.

“There’s still a lot of care we need to take and safety practices to work on and emphasize with people,” Harris said. COVID-19 hot spots and surges are expected to rotate around the state. “Reopening Alabama only works if we all cooperate.”

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