Birmingham city leaders speak on COVID spike, next steps

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – As the White House prepares to send surge response teams into the hardest hit areas of the U.S. by the coronavirus pandemic, the Alabama Department of Public Health says 26 counties are now considered at very high risk for COVID-19.

On the department’s map, counties colored in red are considered very high risk. As this risk to catch coronavirus stays high, cities in our region said they don’t see a need to make changes unless public health officials start to push for it.

“There’s a point where you really can’t ignore what’s going on and where that balance is, is something we’ll have to grapple with over the coming days,” UAB Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo said in a press conference on Wednesday.

Marrazzo sounded the alarm Wednesday at a press conference, saying Alabama is far behind where it should be.

“We’re open for business and we look forward to serving you in a very safe and happy way,” Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato said. “I don’t see businesses being closed again or restricted in any way. That’s just not going to go over.”

In Hoover, it’s business as usual. Brocato said there’s no way Hoover will be going back to a shut down. But that’s not the case everywhere.

“We are in a rough spot, we really are,” Midfield Mayor Gary Richardson said. “There’s two thirds of our people in this state that have not been vaccinated. That’s ridiculous. And to get comfortable opening things right back up with so few people who have been vaccinated, I think it’s premature.”

Midfield Mayor Gary Richardson said community gathering spaces are still closed and will stay that way while the state vaccination rate is low.

Both mayors said you won’t see any more changes than where their cities are now unless the health department or state issues more restrictions.

UAB said restrictions could be necessary if COVID cases keep rising, but Governor Kay Ivey tells CBS 42 News, not anytime soon.

The governor and two mayors all agree the vaccine is the answer to get a better handle on the pandemic.

“I’ve been vaccinated, so I’m encouraging others to do the same thing,” Richardson said as he pulled his vaccine card out to show CBS 42. “I’m leading by example.”

Brocato said it’s necessary to keep moving forward.

“That’s the only way that we’re going to reduce it to where it’s not such a risk,” Brocato said.

CBS 42 was also able to check in with Tuscaloosa City Council President Kip Tyner who said he doesn’t see any changes coming to the city at this time, especially because there have only been a handful of COVID hospitalizations in that part of the region.

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