Top Headlines: Retailers anticipate May reopening, Pandemic renews call for Medicaid expansion

Alabama retailers anticipate May reopening with strict guidelines
It was a nightmare March for retailers across Alabama. Business owners are hoping to reopen with new guidelines sometime in May. With a skeleton crew the Pants Store locations take orders by phone and online with pick up outside. “I don’t want to rush it but I would think beginning of May or mid-May,” says owner Michael Gee. He envisions some strict rules like social distancing, limiting the number of customers in the store, and personal protection equipment. – WCYB

Pandemic renews call for Medicaid expansion in state
Health and advocacy groups on Wednesday urged Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and legislators to expand the state’s Medicaid program as the coronavirus outbreak strains health care systems and takes its deadliest toll on people with underlying medical problems. A group of more than 60 organizations announced a renewed push to try to convince Alabama politicians to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. Alabama is one of 14 states that has not raised income limits to allow more low-income people to qualify for Medicaid. – AP

Pandemic makes working at the zoo a good bit trickier
Lauren Crochet is part of a team at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo that includes zookeepers and maintenance workers who feed animals, clean their housing and make sure the new zoo is in tip-top shape. It’s a different job from managing the Gulf Shore zoo’s gift shop, which Crochet has done as retail manager for the past decade. “We get a lot dirtier and sweatier than we used to,” said Crochet, a Foley resident. –

Wayne Farms, major chicken producer, confirms COVID-19 cases
Coronavirus has stricken workers at nearly half of Wayne Farms’ 11 chicken processing plants and two of its 17 feed mills and hatcheries in the southeastern U.S., the poultry producer confirmed on Wednesday. With annual sales exceeding $2 billion, the Oakwood, Georgia-based processor is the country’s seventh-largest poultry producer and employs more than 9,000 people in five states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina. – CBS

Frontier Communications files for bankruptcy
Frontier Communications has announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As part of the filing, Frontier and its subsidiaries have entered into a Restructuring Support Agreement with bondholders representing more than 75% of Frontier’s approximately $11 billion in outstanding unsecured bonds, according to a press release. Frontier provides local landline and internet service for Atmore and North Escambia County. – WBOY

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Gold’s Gym permanently closing all locations in Alabama
Gold’s Gym has announced that it will be permanently closing about 30 gyms, including all locations in Alabama. The gyms had already been closed because of COVID-19. The company said on Facebook: “While the COVID-19-related closures have caused us to reassess the viability of some company-owned locations and make the difficult decision to permanently close about 30 gyms, we know that we will emerge from this stronger and ready to grow.” – AL NewsNet

Berkadia obtains $15.1 million loan for Lofts on Alabama
Berkadia recently secured a $15.1 million loan with Fannie Mae for Lofts on Alabama, a Class-A apartment community in Grand Rapids’ West Side neighborhood. Director Aaron Moll of Berkadia’s Detroit office secured the permanent financing on behalf of an undisclosed entity and the deal closed April 3. “We were excited to work on this transaction and get another one done across the Lofts of GR brand,” Moll said. – GRBJ

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