Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said in a Zoom conference call Thursday morning that he is not ready yet to re-institute a curfew or other executive action to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the area.

Cases in Tuscaloosa County have spiked in the last two weeks, and hospitalizations in the DCH hospital system are also rising dramatically, leading many to wonder if Maddox will issue another executive order to limit freedom of movement or the size of public gatherings.

In a joint call with the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and Paul Betz, the CEO of the DCH Health System, Maddox said the recent spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases is alarming but said he is not yet ready to use the power of his office to restrict the people of Tuscaloosa.

Maddox said the city is listening to Betz and other professionals at DCH, and if they advise him such measures are necessary, he will then decide what course of action will be best for the city.

Maddox said DCH is approaching its patient capacity, and for the sake of Tuscaloosa and its surrounding counties, people must be more vigilant than ever so that the institutional spread of the virus through nursing homes, the county jail and other hotspots is not matched with a community spread that, when combined, will overload the health system.

"This comes down to not what President Trump does or what Governor Ivey does or what Walt Maddox does, this comes down to what we do as individuals over the next few days and few weeks ahead of us," Maddox said. "Do we wear our masks out in public? Do we practice social distancing? Do we discourage events or gatherings whether these social distancing guidelines are not being done? We hold in our hands the ability to protect ourselves, to protect our families, to protect our neighbors and to save jobs."

He pleaded directly to the citizens of Tuscaloosa to take personal responsibility to slow the spread of the virus so that more executive action is not necessary.

"The city needs your help. All the executive orders in the world can’t compel people ultimately to do the right things, and if there’s ever been a moment to do the right things, that moment is right now -- and it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to do it," Maddox said. "I know you want your lives back, I know want those promises of tomorrow, I know this is a struggle and I know at times there doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of hope, but we control so much of our destiny with this and I ask as a citizen, I ask as someone who works for you every day, please, let’s do these smart things to protect DCH, we protect Tuscaloosa and we regain our lives sooner rather than later."

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