2020 Coronavirus pandemic
The 2019 Coronavirus pandemic was a worldwide pandemic spread by SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2), a "novel Coronavirus" that was first reported in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan in China's Hubei Province. It quickly spread across the globe, defying efforts at containment or immunization. Individuals infected with the virus develop "COVID-19" (COronaVIrus Disease 2019), an illness which attacks pneumocytes, primarily in the lungs leading to pneumonia, limiting the ability of the body to absorb and distribute oxygen to its cells. In severe cases the body's immune response can overwhelm the lungs or other organs. Though many cases are relatively mild, COVID-19 can lead to death, especially in older persons or those with compromised immune or respiratory systems.
Likely due to a delayed capacity to carry out reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) diagnostic testing, Alabama was one of the last states to report a confirmed case of COVID-19. Although it is likely the virus had begun spreading in the state beforehand, the first confirmed case in Alabama was reported on March 13, 2020, two days after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak to be a worldwide pandemic.
By Sunday March 15 the number of confirmed cases statewide reached 22, with 12 of those in Jefferson County. In answer to recommendations from public health agencies to slow the spread of infection by limiting social contacts and postponing large-scale events, many public gatherings were canceled, including worship services. Offices asked workers to telecommute and colleges moved instruction to online services. All public K-12 schools were closed by order of Governor Kay Ivey, beginning on Monday March 16.
Though far from universally adopted, warnings to maintain social distance and self-isolate to slow the rate of infection caused a sudden and drastic decline in revenues for small businesses, non-profit programs, event venues, visitor attractions and transportation services. Low-paid service workers began experiencing job losses almost immediately.