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City and health officials on the reopening of Alabama

Woodfin speaking with the media.
Woodfin speaking with the media.
Updated: May. 10, 2020 at 2:55 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has penned an open letter on Gov. Kay Ivey’s recent amendment to the Safer At Home order, allowing most Alabama business to reopen. The letter reads as follows:

"Dear Birmingham,

I feel obligated to speak directly with you on the road we’ve traveled the past eight weeks, and where we’re currently headed.

From the moment COVID-19 began to take hold of our community, I have attempted to solve three key issues – to keep people from dying, to help reduce community spread, and to prevent our local hospitals from being overburdened.

My approach has been to equally address the public health crisis and the economic crisis created from this pandemic.

It has hurt me deeply to speak with residents who are now unemployed, who have lost their health insurance and who have shuttered their businesses. We are in a situation shared by every city in America. That’s why as a city, we acted quickly to help stabilize small businesses through emergency loan funds. My team is working around the clock to figure out how we can best support businesses as they look to reopen.

As leaders, we have one major duty, and that’s to protect the community we serve.

“Putting People First’’ isn’t just a slogan. It is the strategy for how we govern.

It’s with that in mind that businesses were closed March 24, following the order of the Jefferson County Department of Health. On that day, there were 215 cases of COVID-19 in Alabama, with just one death announced. Twelve days later when the State of Alabama shut down nonessential business there were 1,927 confirmed coronavirus cases and 48 deaths in Alabama.

Today, there are 9,486 confirmed cases and 388 deaths.

When it comes to the reopening of Alabama, we must choose data over dates. Here’s the reality: the cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in our state. In fact, they increased by 20 percent in Alabama last week.

The state’s amended Safer at Home order goes into effect on Monday, May 11. More businesses will open, including restaurants, bars, barbershops and hair salons. These businesses are a hallmark of Birmingham’s quality of life. It has pained me to see them close, especially those who have been forced to close for good.

But as you find it necessary to return to shopping, supporting small business and to the workplace, I want to remind you of the importance of staying safe and healthy. If you are in Birmingham, please continue to wear face coverings. Right now, it’s the law. Research has shown that many people are not showing any signs of COVID-19 but that they could be carriers. For those who are carriers or potential carriers, wearing a face covering helps reduce the spread. And that’s all I’m trying to do ‑ stop the spread of this deadly virus.

If you don’t have to go out, continue to stay home. If you do have to go out, please practice social distancing, remember to wash your hands and remember to wear a face covering. I’ve said this before and I will continue to say this: we are all in this together. And if we can all join in agreement to do whatever we can to stay safe and healthy but to also find safe ways to support each other, let’s do it. Please remember to practice common sense during this ongoing crisis.

Public health leaders ask people to wear face coverings, not to protect themselves, but to protect those they are around. It is selflessness that defines community responsibility and self-interestedness that defines personal responsibility.

On this Mother’s Day, when we take time to celebrate the women who have given so much for us, I’m reminded of one word – sacrifice.

Too many in our community have already lost loved ones to this deadly illness. There are families now experiencing their first Mother’s Day without mom. It’s for those grieving families, and for those strong women like my own mother who are currently at risk, that we make personal sacrifices for the wellness of our community. It’s the least we can do for those who have given so much for us.

As a people, let’s do the things we have learned to slow the spread of this disease. When you leave home, cover your mouth and nose. Keep a safe distance from others who are not part of your household. For businesses, adhere to the requirements put in place to keep your employees, your customers and yourselves safe. That includes requiring face coverings for those entering store fronts in the City of Birmingham.

Let’s put politics aside and simply do what’s right to keep Birmingham healthy and safe.

Mayor Randall Woodfin"

Sunday, UAB Infectious Disease doctors and researchers also urged the community to continue social distancing: “that sacrifice could be quickly wasted if we do not stay vigilant,” a press release said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Always wear a face covering.
  • Wash your hands often, and for at least 20 seconds.
  • Disinfect things you touch, and do not touch what you do not have to.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Avoid large groups.

Alabama Department of Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Landers also weighed in.

“ It’s something we have to continue at least for the time that we do not have a vaccine or a treatment That’s really successful outside of a few individual studies, said Landers.

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