Mayor Maddox addresses confirmed COVID-19 case in Tuscaloosa


CW / Hannah Saad

Maddox at a March 12, 2020 presser, where he discussed the city’s response to COVID-19

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox has proclaimed a state of emergency following the Friday evening confirmation of a COVID-19 case in Tuscaloosa. 

Tuscaloosa is the most recent of six counties to confirm a coronavirus case in Alabama. The patient, whose identity has not been revealed, was released from Druid City Hospital and is at home, according to Maddox.

“Fear is still our greatest threat,” he said at a press conference on Friday night, following news of the confirmation. “For weeks we knew this day would come, now that it is here life marches forward. We must continue to live our lives. I believe Tuscaloosa will be fine by meeting this unprecedented moment with unprecedented resolve.” 

Below is the full proclamation announcing the local emergency. 

WHEREAS, Ordinance No. 2272 and other provisions of state and local law empower the City of Tuscaloosa by and through its Mayor to proclaim the existence or threatened existence of a local emergency when the City is affected or likely to be affected by an impending or actual calamity; and, 

WHEREAS, the City of Tuscaloosa has been requested by the Director of Emergency Management Agency of Tuscaloosa County to proclaim the existence of a local emergency, or is otherwise authorized to issue this declaration; and, 

WHEREAS, the Mayor acting in his official capacity on behalf of the City of Tuscaloosa does hereby find: 

  1. That conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property have arisen, are threatened or impending, and/or are reasonably anticipated to arise as predicted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Alabama Department of Public Health, within and about the City of Tuscaloosa, caused by the Coronavirus Diseas (COVID-19); and
  2. That such conditions of extreme peril warrant and necessitate the proclamation of the existence of a local disaster and emergency. 

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY PROCLAIMED that a disaster exists and a local emergency now exists throughout the City of Tuscaloosa; and

IT IS FURTHER PROCLAIMED AND ORDERED that during the existence of the emergency, the powers, functions, and duties of the Departments and employees of those prescribed by applicable federal law, state law, charter, executive order, ordinances, resolutions, rules, and regulations.

The city currently has no details about where in the county the individual contracted the virus, which was originally reported by the Alabama Department of Public Health. 

Though this is the first time Maddox has dealt with a pandemic during his ten years in office, he stressed that the city of Tuscaloosa is taking the necessary precautions. He noted the importance of applying “common sense” measures and alluded to recent efforts to extend the utilities grace period and cancel events on city grounds.

Maddox said a designated policy team is currently exploring the economic impact of the virus on small businesses. He said that he doesn’t have a specific plan at this point and believes it would be premature to start giving relief until the city can quantify the economic impact of the University’s recent move to keep students off-campus.

“We are all concerned about the economic impact of what happens with the extended absence of University of Alabama students,” he said, noting that his priorities are to clearly define how the absence will impact businesses and then craft the ability to help them.  “We were able to successfully do this in most cases following the April 27th tornado. With the President’s declaration on top of the governor’s declaration, that is going to give us a little bit more freedom. But we don’t have a specific plan and frankly, that would be premature at this point.”

Maddox said moving forward it’s on everyone to make certain that they apply common sense, take precautions, continue to plan and get information from reliable sources. 

“Because at the end of the day my job my devotion is Mayor of Tuscaloosa, but my life and my passion is my family,” he said. “I’m a father. I’m a husband and every decision that I make as mayor and every decision [Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith] and the commands team they make not only as professionals, they make as community members with families here too. We want to protect our families as we protect our cities.”

View the full livestream below.