Maddox declares second state of emergency due to COVID-19


CW / Carly Farmer

Jessa Reid Bolling | @jr_bolling, News Editor

The Tuscaloosa City Council voted in favor of a State of Emergency on Tuesday to allow Mayor Walt Maddox to issue executive orders to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

The order will go into effect Thursday and will last until the city council decides to repeal Maddox’s emergency powers. 

At a council meeting Tuesday, Maddox also said that he is worried about a potential spike in COVID-19 cases as over 25,000 students prepare to return to Tuscaloosa for the fall semester. 

“If we don’t plan for the tsunami that is coming today, we will be overwhelmed by it in two to three weeks,” Maddox said in a pre-council meeting Tuesday afternoon. “I feel very strongly that this is the moment that we must act.”

Fall classes for The University of Alabama are set to begin on August 19. All students, faculty and staff are required to test negative for COVID-19 before returning to campus. 

Maddox laid out six main concerns behind why he requested to be given emergency powers: 

  • DCH Health System is experiencing higher number of inpatient COVID-19 and deaths are on the rise
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has been activated for 30 days to assist with Alternate Care Site for planning for medical surge issues
  • The ability to move at the speed of COVID-19 crisis
  • Summer was supposed to be a time of reprieve, and the fall is expected to be worse with the beginning of flu season
  • The arrival of 25,000 plus citizens over the next several weeks
  • The demands on workforce over the next several months

This will be the second time a state of emergency has been implemented due to the COVID-10 pandemic. The first was issued in mid March shortly after the first case of COVID-19 in Tuscaloosa was confirmed by the Alabama Department of Public Health. 

According to, Tuscaloosa County has the 5th largest amount of COVID-19 cases in the state with 3,984 active cases as of Tuesday. As of Tuesday, there are 105 inpatients at the DCH Health System with COVID-19.

The measure passed in a 4-3 vote under suspended rules. 

Maddox said he plans to mandate that bars must operate at 50 percent capacity after 9 p.m. 

Currently, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues must stop selling alcohol at 11 p.m., with all drinks emptied by 11:30, due to a ruling from the Alabama Beverage Control Board. 

If Maddox passes his planned executive order, bars must operate at half capacity for the last two hours they are allowed to sell alcohol. Bar services at restaurants will also have to stop serving at 9 p.m. Patrons will still be allowed to order from their tables until 11 p.m.

Maddox also said he will require entertainment venues in the city to reduce their capacity to 25 percent of what is currently allowed by the fire code. A state health order currently requires entertainment venues to operate at 50 percent capacity. The capacity limit on entertainment venues will be in effect during all working hours.