Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Tuscaloosa, and many are suggesting that making face masks mandatory could dramatically reduce the spread of the virus.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox addressed this issue in a recent Facebook post. Maddox said that his office has received multiple inquiries from concerned citizens and that the Office of the City Attorney has researched how the City of Tuscaloosa could make a mandatory face mask ordinance if necessary.

"Based on a recent AG’s opinion, there is a mechanism that the City of Tuscaloosa could mandate face coverings. The caveat is that it can only be accomplished by a majority vote of the Council and not through an executive order. In the near future, I believe the Council will extensively discuss the medical merits, enforcement concerns and all other related matters to this issue. Science, data and logic must drive the Council's decision-making and our team will provide the best information possible," said Maddox.

Recent weeks have seen a rapid community spread of COVID-19; however, DCH Health System is currently able to treat all COVID-19 inpatients. Maddox said that DCH officials regularly provide him with the latest data about patient counts and that the City is prepared to act if necessary.

"If DCH conveys to the City there is a potential danger to our healthcare system, the City will act. Thankfully, DCH has not made a request, but there is a medical surge plan in place that is coordinated between DCH, Tuscaloosa County EMA and the City," said Maddox.

Mayor Maddox said the easiest thing for citizens to do at this point is to take the initiative to wear face masks on their own.

"Wearing a mask demonstrates our shared values because we are protecting our families and fellow citizens," Maddox said.

"We have been blessed in Tuscaloosa. DCH and our medical community have been heroes, and a large share of the public has taken this seriously while many in our business community had to sacrifice much to give us time to be prepared," he continued. "Let’s finish this and regain our lives - Let’s wear our mask in public!"

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