Entertainment District Downtown Tuscaloosa2

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox says he wants to bring back the city’s State of Emergency amid the COVID-19 crisis.

In a pre-council meeting today, Maddox said he’s concerned about a potential spike in COVID-19 cases among students attending area colleges. The University of Alabama System is taking great strides in ensuring students, faculty and staff are tested, he said.

Tuscaloosa is one of the top counties for COVID cases, Maddox said, but that coincides with its population compared with other counties. As of Monday, there are 109 inpatients at the DCH Health System with COVID-19.

That’s becoming a concern, Maddox said, because that means fewer beds for patients with other ailments.

DCH’s biggest problem, though, is staffing, said Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith. They’ve called in travel nurses from around the country, Smith said, but there are still fewer nurses available than needed.

“The more COVID cases you have on a consistent basis in a hospital setting, the more likely you are to have nurses affected by COVID as well,” Maddox said.

Maddox’s state of emergency plan would reduce bar occupancy after 9 p.m., along with reduce experience or entertainment venue occupancy to 25% at all times, and end bar service at restaurants at 9 p.m.

Summer was supposed to be a time of reprieve for COVID, Maddox said, and fall is expected to be worse with the influx of 25,000 college students. In addition, flu season is coming.

The council will vote on the potential State of Emergency declaration tonight at 6 p.m.

Watch the full meeting below:

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