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Shoals coronavirus cases rise

Masks are not required but recommended by city and county officials.

Posted: Jun 29, 2020 4:27 PM
Updated: Jun 29, 2020 7:24 PM

With the number of coronavirus cases on the rise, the the public health department admitted hospitals in Alabama could get overwhelmed at some point.

Dr. Karen Landers, Lauderdale County officials, and the city of Florence hosted a press conference Monday to discuss what the pandemic is doing in the Shoals area.

As of last week the North Alabama Medical Center said it was treating less than 10 coronavirus patients and Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield said it had nine patients with coronavirus in the hospital.

Landers said during the press confrence that we need to take measures now like wearing masks and social distancing to prevent overwhelming Alabama's health care system.

"In terms of what can go on in the fall people talk about first wave second wave but we've never gotten out of the first wave in Alabama," said Landers.

Landers spoke to a crowd of city and county officials, some county officials still weren't wearing masks despite being in an enclosed room.

"Take the measures now, lets do what we can now to reduce our numbers so that our healthcare system will be able to have an opportunity to recover and regroup before we have the respiratory season that comes along," said Landers.

"Right now our healthcare system is handling this okay but I stress that they are handling this with an all hands on deck approach where healthcare workers are working very long hours it is very stressful to our doctors and nurses.

Florence Mayor Steve Holt said the Lauderdale County numbers land them right in the middle of how everyone is handling it.

"We have 372 positive cases out of 6,852 tests that have been administered so that's a 5.4% infection rate compared to tests administered that puts us in roughly in the middle of all 67 counties," said Holt.

Currently, the City Hall and police department lobbies are closed to the public because of the coronavirus. The city doesn't require it's employees or members of the public to wear masks if they come into a city building but Holt said that could change in the future.

"It's not our intention to mandate wearing a mask either with our employees that's an option but we do highly recommend it particularly if your going into a public building," said Holt.

Holt said when it comes to a mandatory mask order he doesn't see that happening in Florence, but said he gets a lot of calls on the issue.

"I get calls and emails each week from somebody that insists we mandate wearing a mask and within the same hour I'll get a call or email from someone saying don't get on my constitutional rights and demand that I wear a mask," said Holt.

Holt wears his mask in public places. He lowered it while explaining why the masks are so important.

"I had a gentleman over the weekend say I lost a relative recently that was strong and health and that relative passed away because of the coronavirus and it made an impact on me that this is serious and this is not going away right now and this might be more serious than ever," said Holt.

Holt said if the city begins to allow more people in public buildings he could see masks being a requirement along with other safety measures already in place.

"We have put up all kinds of protective screening. We've revamped our lobby area. We've done that at the municipal court and I think were in the process of doing that at the city clerks office," said Holt.

Landers said she encourages everyone to wear a mask.

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