By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Despite evidence that the spread of COVID-19 is on the decline, another five Escambia County residents have tested positive for the virus since state and local health officials issued their last update on May 22.
According to Escambia County Healthcare Authority and Alabama Department of Public Health statistics, 452 samples have been collected at Atmore Community Hospital, where 401 have tested negative for the novel coronavirus. There have been 37 confirmed cases, the results of 13 others are pending, and one test was deemed inconclusive.
At D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital in Brewton, only six cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed. The hospital has tested 248 patients, with 233 negative results and nine that are pending lab results.
Statewide, almost 16,000 confirmed cases have been reported from more than 192,000 samples collected. The virus has been blamed for 566 deaths.
No Wind Creek yet
Under Gov. Kay Ivey’s Amended Safer at Home Order, most of the state’s entertainment venues and athletics facilities were cleared to resume operations at 5 p.m. last Friday.
Social distancing and occupancy restrictions must be enforced by each entity re-opening for business.
For purposes of the amended order, “entertainment venue” includes bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, theaters, auditoriums, performing centers, tourist attractions (including museums and planetariums), racetracks, commercial or public playgrounds, adult entertainment venues, casinos and bingo halls.
Wind Creek Atmore officials said Friday that WCH plans to reopen its movie theater complex, bowling alley and arcade at the same time Wind Creek Casino and Hotel reopens.
A private, invitation-only “soft opening” of the casino is expected within the next week “to bring people in to see how the new operation will work,” Wind Creek Hospitality CEO Jay Dorris said last week, adding that the company has not yet set a date for when it plans to reopen its four hotel properties, its three casinos in Alabama (at Atmore, Wetumpka and Montgomery) and the Mobile Greyhound Track.
Dorris said a re-opening announcement could come within the next week or two.
“When customers come in, we want them to have a sense of escape, to have fun, but we also want them to feel safe, as well as our employees,” he said on May 21. “We think our plan gives us the means to do that.”
Since all “non-essential” Alabama businesses were shut down more than two months ago, the company has realized no revenue from its entertainment and hospitality properties.
“But we’ve been very fortunate in that we’ve been able to have a lot of success (in the past),” he said. “That success means we’ve been able to weather this better than others. It’s been costly, but we were and are prepared to weather it, and we fully expect to be stronger than ever in the long run.”
Play ball, carefully
Also effective Friday, team athletic practices involving conditioning, skill drills and similar activities, resumed, with the standard restrictions and more. Beginning June 15, participation in team athletic activities may proceed in any respect, subject to social distancing, personal safety and sanitation rules.
When practices and play resume, players, coaches, officials and spectators are prohibited from “high fives,” handshakes, and other physical contact except to the extent necessary – and only to the extent necessary – for players, coaches, and officials to directly participate in the athletic activity.
Players, coaches, and officials must wear a mask or other facial covering that covers his or her nostrils and mouth at all times, except when a player or official is directly participating in the athletic activity.
For more details, read the governor’s amended order posted on www.atmorenews.com.