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Holidays on the River was postponed again Tuesday as cases of COVID-19 continue to spike in the Tuscaloosa area, leaving the city too understaffed to man the event at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.

The ice-skating rink and more have been closed since the end of November, and Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox said they will not reopen until Jan. 4 at the earliest.

The decision to continue postponing the event comes after Tuscaloosa County reported over 1,140 new cases in one week, the highest weekly total since the pandemic began.

"This is again a very dangerous time right now for a lot of different people," Mayor Walt Maddox said in his COVID-19 update to the city council. “I think we're all hearing stories of people that we know who are struggling with this, whether they are family members or somebody in our neighborhood or our friends. This is a danger and we have to recognize it for what it is."

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the county has now reported 15,811 cumulative COIVD-19 cases since the pandemic began in March, with over 10 percent of all COVID tests yielding a positive result.

Maddox also announced that relief may be on the way as DCH prepares to distribute 500 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine this week.

"It's here and it's community spread and I don't think that number is going to slow down," Maddox said. "One day you may be 93 [positive cases] the next day or 200 [positive cases] but if you look at it holistically, those numbers continue to stay high, which is a concern."

Despite the high number of cases, Maddox once again assured the council and public that the city is not currently considering going into a lockdown or instituting a curfew because DCH has not asked for such measures to be taken.

One silver lining, Maddox said, is that DCH has reported stability in the number of COVID-19 patients in their ICUs or on ventilators during this recent spike, which demonstrates that we are getting better at treating the virus and limiting the number of dire cases.

Maddox also said any curfew that could be implemented would hurt small local businesses since federal law would exempt "essential" big-box retailers from closing in the event of a citywide curfew.

"I think the most important thing we do is continue to increase awareness about how important the next few weeks are and to combat the fatigue of COVID-19 especially with the holidays coming up, which makes us all a little bit more relaxed and continue but evaluate all options to protect our healthcare system," Maddox said. "As I always say, the governor, the mayor, the president, the city council can't do what you can do individually, and that's practice social distancing, wear masks, wash and sanitize hands regularly and just apply a lot of common sense to what we do."

Watch the full pre-council meeting below.

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