<p>In Tuscaloosa County, there were 4,002 cases and 69 COVID-19 related deaths reported as of Wednesday.</p><p>On Tuesday, the Tuscaloosa City Council voted 4-3 to grant emergency powers to the mayor in dealing with the pandemic. On Wednesday, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox discussed the importance of taking further action.</p>

<p>Maddox said Wednesday that these decisions are not easy ones, and began a morning news conference with a simple assessment of our current situation, calling it “manageable but fragile.”</p><p>Maddox said there are 103 city employees who are on leave because of COVID-19. His biggest concern, though, is the return of more than 20,000 students this month. With those students comes a huge economic impact, but also increased concern about the spreading of the virus.</p><div></div><p>“Student spending itself in Tuscaloosa is a $366 million investment,” Maddox said. “August is gonna be maybe one of the most important months in recent history of Tuscaloosa.”</p><div></div><p>The mayor said having thousands of college students back in town will bring large crowds to the Strip and downtown. Having so many people in close quarters in bars and restaurants is a recipe for more problems.</p><div></div><p>“I think every one of my 100,000-plus bosses in this city want the same thing,” he said. “As mayor that’s my first responsibility is to protect your health, safety and welfare.”</p><div></div><p>Maddox said he’ll leave it to others to speculate about what the future holds and what to believe and not believe, but there’s no denying that COVID-19 requires action now, not later.</p><div></div><p>“COVID-19 is more than just a health care issue, it’s an economic issue, it’s a workforce issue,” Maddox said. “It’s impacting every phase of American life, and to ignore that reality to me, that is the greatest hoax of all.”</p><div></div><p>Mayor Maddox was to meet with some local bar owners today before the new restrictions go into effect.  While he’s concerned about the latest COVID-19 numbers, he’s also optimistic going forward.</p><div></div><p>“I’m optimistic about the people I work with every day,” Maddox said. “I wish the people that I work for, the citizens i work for every day could see our team members. These committed public servants are doing everything possible to help us get through this.”</p><div></div><p> As it stands now, any new measures dealing with the businesses go into effect at 5 p.m. August 6.</p>

Categories: COVID-19, Local News