In a Thursday interview on the Steve Shannon Morning Show on 95.3 The Bear, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated as COVID-19 cases continue to climb throughout the state.

"99.9% of people, you know they love their family, they love their children, they love their community... I would just ask people who are not vaccinated is that I hope you'll dig in and learn all the facts."

Maddox was asked about the possibility of implementing a city-wide mask mandate. Multiple times, he was hesitant to commit to that. He talked specifically about a recent column by AL.com that suggested SEC schools should require vaccination proof or negative COVID-19 tests before attending football games this fall.

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"It's a surface-level argument. The logistics of that are impossible," Maddox said. "I don't think that helps the argument to those that are genuinely concerned... Shaming and criticizing is not going to get this job done."

He cited the recent incident in Franklin, Tennessee, where a group verbally threatened doctors and parents outside of a school board meeting. The board had just voted 7-3 Tuesday to require masks in elementary schools for all students, staff and visitors.

"I think you saw in Franklin, Tennessee, just how divisive that can be. That's not going to push people towards getting vaccinated, which is the ultimate mitigation... Can you imagine trying to enforce a mask ordinance and putting law enforcement in that extremely difficult position? There's nothing but bad things that can happen."

As for inside City Hall, Maddox mentioned introducing incentives to encourage employees to get the vaccine. The Tuscaloosa City Council is set to debate this at next Tuesday's meeting. Currently, only 50% of City staff are vaccinated.

"Unlike February of last year where we last saw COVID cases this hard, we have a vaccine... that basically gives you 99.9% protection," Maddox said. "We need to do everything in our power to continue to convince every single person to go do that."

"Nothing makes me hurt worse than when I see people talk about our state," Maddox. "We are good people. We're people of faith, we're people that genuinely care."

As for what's next, Maddox only wished for people to continue to spread the news of the success of the COVID-19 vaccine, highlighting how local hospitals are quickly becoming overwhelmed again by a largely unvaccinated population.

"There's always been these flashpoints of division within our country because we are a diverse country. What has always brought us together has been our shared common values," Maddox said. "That's why I don't believe in this shaming, or at this point mandating... The best way is to continue to share the stories of success of the vaccine."

When asked if he would accept the Alabama Hospital Association's challenge to increase Tuscaloosa's vaccination rate by 20% by Labor Day, Maddox eagerly accepted.

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Alabama COVID-19 Vaccine Breakdown (June 2021)

Each graphic shows how many people are vaccinated in all of Alabama's 67 counties, plus the percentage of vaccinated people versus that county's total population. This data was pulled from the Alabama Department of Public Health, county health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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