Mayor ensures city preparedness amid worldwide coronavirus outbreak


CW / Grace Schepis

Grace Schepis | @GraceSchepisCW, Staff Reporter

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox entered the City Hall Chambers Thursday morning to deliver a statement concerning Tuscaloosa’s future with COVID-19, or coronavirus.

The disease has yet to reach Alabama; however, cases have been filed in the neighboring states of Florida and Georgia. In the U.S. alone, there have been 99 reported cases and 12 deaths so far. Maddox ensured to those in attendance that the city would be ready for an outbreak in Tuscaloosa.

“Cities are the centers of American life,” Maddox said. “We know that if this national trend of infections continues, most urban areas will experience the coronavirus, including Tuscaloosa. Therefore, we must have a plan of action. I have authorized the purchasing of necessary supplies for our first responders, increased the frequency of cleanings in city facilities and required departments to prepare response protocols and contingency plans for the continuation of operations.”

With what seems more like a “when” rather than an “if” situation, Maddox looked to make it clear that Tuscaloosa was ready.

“Let me be clear – the city will not close,” he said.

Maddox has set out for city officials and agencies to do their part, but suggested that the real responsibility lies within the citizens. 

“We know the most effective response will not be coming from local, state or federal governments,” Maddox said. “Rather, it will come from you by focusing on four key elements: precaution, planning, communication and common sense. If you are sick, stay home. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Cover your cough or sneeze. Clean and disinfect frequently, especially objects and surfaces that you touch often. Get a flu shot if you haven’t.”

This element of planning is critical. 

“Planning will never be a perfect science, but the more you think through the potential issues, the more prepared you will be and the less unknowns you will encounter,” Maddox said.

In addition to taking these precautionary measures, Maddox also hopes that citizens rely only on the most accredited information available.

“When it comes to communication, it’s very important that you seek information from reliable sources,” Maddox said. “I would encourage everyone to monitor the CDC and the Alabama Department of Public Health websites. The city has compiled information from multiple sources at, and I believe you will find those sources beneficial. Just because something is posted on social media does not necessarily mean it’s true. You’re in control of what information you will use in the weeks and months ahead. If you remember only one thing, remember this: Rely on facts and not Facebook or other social media.” 

With misinformation and sensationalism becoming a plague of its own, Maddox warns people to not get caught up in everything they see online.

“In my opinion fear is more dangerous than the virus,” Maddox said.

With spring break approaching, Tuscaloosa City Schools Superintendent Mike Daria asked families to be aware of where they are traveling. Daria has requested that families headed to areas that have been identified by the CDC as a threat to notify their respective schools before doing so. 

“We want to be able to have that information so that when they return we can monitor and support our children and our families,” Daria said.

As for the University, an international travel suspension is already in place. When it comes to any school-affiliated domestic travel, by either student organizations or sports teams, Maddox has already kept in close contact with UA President Stuart Bell to monitor any unsafe undergoings. 

“I think UA has done an outstanding job in issuing travel guidance,” Maddox said. 

To watch the complete press conference, visit the City of Tuscaloosa’s Facebook page.