Tuscaloosa Mayor addresses recent jump in COVID-19 cases

COVID-19 hotspot in Tuscaloosa

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox says he’s not ready yet to issue an order that would restrict where people go and what they can do like he did in March, but he admitted he’s concerned about the high the number of positive coronavirus cases trending in the area.

‘We’re worried because we’ve seen, in the last week, a 44% increase in the number of coronavirus cases," Maddox explained.

He also said the number of patients with the illness at DCH Regional Medical Center doubled recently. He and the Chief Operating Officer of DCH addressed more people testing positive for COVID-19 and how it affected the hospital’s capacity to treat people sick with COVID and other illnesses during a webinar sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.

A majority of people in downtown Tuscaloosa Thursday afternoon, were not wearing masks. That worried Jack Saraceno.

“It makes me feel unsafe cause COVID is not going anywhere for a while. So we have to protect ourselves and protecting ourselves means protecting others,” he explained.

Maddox blamed part of the rise of coronavirus cases on the institutional spread of COVID-19.

“Whether it’s a nursing home, the Harper Psychiatric Geriatric Facility, Metro Jail. We know there is institutional spread. This is why we’re at such a critical moment,” he continued.

Nursing homes like Forest Manor in Northport and the Tuscaloosa County Jail contributed to the recent jump in cases. Thursday, Forest Manor confirmed 19 residents and 8 staff members tested positive for COVID-19. The first positive case there was reported May 19th. At least 21 inmates in the Tuscaloosa County Jail tested positive for coronavirus last week. Only one of those people showed any symptoms.

Maddox called on more people to wear masks in public and to practice social distancing to limit coronavirus from spreading. He said getting people to act more responsibly can do more good than a curfew or stay at home order from local or state government.

“The city needs your help. All the executive orders in the world can’t compel people to ultimately do the right thing,” he added.

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