Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey spoke exclusively with Breitbart News on Thursday about the state’s economy and the progress being made to allow Alabamians to get back to work following the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
“Our main focus right now is what works in Alabama and how our people are doing by staying at home and abiding by the order,” Ivey said during a phone interview. “We’re making progress in that regard because people are abiding by the order, staying at home and safe distancing, personal hygiene, etc. Because of that progress, we’re now able to start making plans to think about opening the economy back up.”
Ivey also outlined the steps being taken to reopen Alabama’s economy, noting that she is taking recommendations and input from several different areas of the state. “Our state is composed of different sectors of business,” she said. “Both small business has different sectors and large businesses have different sectors that operate differently. We’re a state that’s got wide, geographical, regional, and economic differences. So it’s important that we have a plan that involves representatives from each of these areas and factions so they can give us the best recommendations on what works in their sector of small business and large business and what works in their geographic area.”
She went on to say, “As you recall on Tuesday, I announced that we have each of our seven congressional members of Congress have jumped on board, and they’re holding meetings in their respective districts to come up with recommendations of what would help to reopen the kinds of business they have in their respective districts. The Small Business Committee headed by lieutenant governor is to provide recommendations, I’m told, by tomorrow, and then my seven members of my coronavirus task force will be taking all these recommendations and developing a meaningful timeline and a timetable for reopening these different sectors and these different locations of the state. At the same time, Dr. Harris and I will be making sure that these recommendations are fully included in the recommendations from our health community and our medical experts.”
Ivey also reassured Alabamians that a plan is “on the way.”
“We’ve got a plan on the way. It takes multiple people’s input and recommendations. No one person in this state is smart enough to know all the answers about all the questions,” Ivey said, adding that she has “several teams in place that will bring this [plan] forward.”
Gov. Ivey also stated that she hopes to “have some specifics to recommend” by the end of this month.
Asked about certain policies or methods she would potentially explore and implement after the crisis settles, Ivey stated, “I think there’s some things that very sectors have started utilizing during the pandemic that are bringing good results, and we might want to consider using some of these same things going forward, such as telemedicine; such as ACORE, which is educational groups that have put up online teacher’s lessons, etc., to help students learn away from school, not having to be physically present; and then we’ve been doing meetings by Zoom.
Ivey said she believes the pandemic has helped Americans discover “multiple ways” to conduct business through technology.
“I think there are multiple ways that we’ve discovered we can do business, maybe even more effective utilizing technology than ever before,” Ivey said. “Those would be some things, I hope, we would have on the table.”
Small businesses across America have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, a topic the governor highlighted in her phone call with Breitbart News.
“We sent out very early on, as soon as Congress passed the stimulus package to small business owners to contact that financial source … banks, credit unions, etc., and get the paperwork done. I wanted Alabama small business owners to be front of the line.”
“Already, some 19,244 applications have been fulfilled and $3.8 billion has been paid to small businesses,” Ivey added. “That may not be enough, but it was sure a good start, and unemployment applications have skyrocketed, so everybody’s got an opportunity to file for unemployment.”
Ivey also highlighted the state’s unemployment data, noting a large increase in the number of unemployment applications.
“In just four weeks, we had 264,000 applications for unemployment as compared to 130,000 in 12 months of last year,” Ivey said of the data. “Yes, small business has been hit hard, and they are the backbone of our economy, and we will continue to work hard for our small business.”
Ivey also discussed her weekly phone calls with Vice President Mike Pence, saying she is “proud to participate” with him and President Donald Trump to coordinate efforts to reopen the economy.
“We’re proud to participate with the president and vice president and other governors across the nation as we share ideas,” Ivey stated. “Remember, none of us have been through such a situation. There’s no playbook. There’s no breadcrumbs to follow. This is a make-decisions-based-on-the-best-data-you-have-at-the-time. The decision has to be made.”
“We all want to go back to work as soon as we can, but we want to do it as smart as we can,” Ivey added.
Ivey concluded the interview with a message of thanks to Alabama’s residents and asked for “continued patience.”
“I just want to thank the people of Alabama for taking to heart, truly taking to heart, the stay-at-home order and responding as well as they have,” Ivey said. “I just ask for their continued patience and their diligence to abide by this order for another couple of weeks. Then we will be in an even stronger position to move forward with our economy.”