Tuscaloosa City Council Revokes Mayor’s Emergency Powers
The Tuscaloosa City Council revoked a state of emergency Tuesday which for months has allowed Mayor Walt Maddox to take action to address the COVID-19 pandemic without first seeking council approval.
The state of emergency was declared last August to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The city council only meets once a week, and most major council actions would have required discussion over multiple weeks before a vote on the matter.
With University of Alabama students returning to Tuscaloosa for the first time since March and the pandemic demanding deft leadership to address rapid changes, the council voted to give Maddox broad power to act without their input.
For instance, during the state of emergency, Maddox used his new power to close the city's bars for two weeks and reduce capacity levels at restaurants.
“If we don’t plan for a tsunami that is coming today, we will be overwhelmed by it in two or three weeks,” Maddox said last August.
At the time, the DCH System was nearly overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients and the situation only grew more dire in the fall and winter. Now, though, DCH reports “five or fewer inpatients within the DCH system who are positive for COVID-19.”
Additionally, COVID-19 vaccines are being administered daily at multiple locations in Tuscaloosa County.
The council reassessed the COVID-19 situation in Tuscaloosa and decided Tuesday the state of emergency was no longer necessary.
The seven council members voted unanimously to end the state of emergency, drastically reducing Maddox's ability to act independently of the City Council.
Backpedaling on Coronavirus prevention measures is happening across the state as well, as Governor Kay Ivey's statewide mask mandate is set to expire this Friday, and Ivey has clearly stated she will not renew it, although she is still encouraging common sense COVID-prevention measures and personal responsibility.
Smaller governments may opt to enact their own mask mandate after the state's expires -- as the city of Birmingham has chosen to do -- but the Tuscaloosa city council did not discuss issuing their own order during their meeting Tuesday night.