State looks for local leaders to take action while weighing options for COVID-19 next steps

Updated: Jun. 17, 2020 at 6:16 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to rise and health leaders are expressing grave concerns. State health leaders say they’re looking at options, but also urging local leaders to take action.

The number has positive cases has more than doubled since Gov. Kay Ivey issued an amended safer at home order that loosened COVID-19 restrictions in late May. That’s a jump from 13,119 cases to 26,524 cases as of Tuesday.

“If we believe this current increase is related to the relaxation of social and physical distancing," said Dr. Jeanne Mazzaro with UAB, “then that really tells you it is a very powerful tool."

The governor’s order is set to expire July 3. Her office released a statement to WBRC saying in part “The governor continues to stress the need for personal responsibility.”

“The question is are people following the instructions enough that are already out there. I think the answer to that is pretty convincingly no. If we were, we wouldn’t be looking at record-high cases,” said Dr. Don Williamson, CEO of the Alabama Hospital Association.

But as we see more cases rise and hospital capacity decrease, state health leaders are deferring more action to local leaders.

“We’re making sure that they can have their data to inform them and they are ultimately responsible for folks in local areas and it makes sense that certain parts of the state need to impose restrictions themselves,” said Alabama Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

And state hospital officials agree that further action on mandates like face masks or shut downs is more effective from local governments.

“If we move away from a state to a county or municipality order that would be more believed and expected because people are living the reality,” Dr. Williamson.

And we’ve seen local leaders take action with Birmingham and Tuscaloosa implementing ordinances for face masks.

State health leaders say they are continuing to discuss what’s next for the future and don’t have a set COVID-19 positive case number to use to decide if another stay at home order will be issued. Instead, they’re looking at how quickly cases are increasing, how it’s spreading, and hospital capacity.

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.