Birmingham mayor calls for political courage in coronavirus fight

Mayor Woodfin on 'Safer at Home' extension

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodin said Tuesday more may be needed to stop the spread of the coronavirus than just continuing with Governor Ivey’s Safer at Home Order.

The mayor called for political courage Tuesday. Woodfin was the first to call for sheltering in place and mandatory face coverings. Mayor Woodfin said tough decisions have to be made to stop the spread of the disease.

Jefferson County has been a hot spot for the spread of the disease. The mayor says he has no interest in debating other politicians or criticizing Governor Ivey, but the mayor said if they listened to health officers back in May as the state reopened and required statewide face masks, the spread of the coronavirus may not have been so great.

“The words personal responsibility get on my nerves a little bit because it throws out the fact as elected officials we can wipe our hands and Alabamians can do what they want to do in a health crisis. Instead of making tough, hard decisions even if they are unpopular, it’s the right thing to do to save lives,” Woodfin said.

Woodfin said decisions are being made for political reasons and not for health reasons. He says the rate of COVID-19 has to come down and if not, there could be another shutdown order coming for businesses.

Some health officials questioned if Alabamians would tolerate another shutdown, but Mayor Woodfin said there may be little choice in the matter.

Woodfin remains critical the state was not more restrictive to reopen the businesses and to require mandatory face masks statewide before doing so. Woodfin said politicians were wanting to get the economy going more than they wanted to listen to health officers to protect lives.

As the numbers continue to spike in key areas around the state including Jefferson County, the mayor said it’s up to the people to take safety steps, social distance, and wear face masks to prevent a shutdown again.

“These numbers can continue to spike, so the health officer or the city of Birmingham believe this health crisis is out of control and we have to make decisions that puts life over livelihoods. Don’t box us in. Don’t put us in the position to make that choice,” Woodfin said.

Woodfin said he will continue to listen to health officials on their advice, the impact on hospitals in Birmingham with a growing number of COVID patients, and if they are being overwhelmed.

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