Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong offered a positive outlook for his county’s fight against COVID-19 and outlined some of the measures the county is prepared to implement in anticipation of a return to work.
At a Tuesday news conference conducted jointly by the county and the City of Huntsville, Strong expressed his belief that the steps taken by county residents have resulted in fewer cases.
“We’re continuing to see our new cases decrease locally because we have worked at maintaining social distancing and sanitizing,” he said. “We have 52 people, in our county of 375,000, who are actively quarantined.”
He also noted 28 patients have been released from critical care in local hospitals.
“We are trending down in new cases,” Strong remarked. “There is a lot of success that is going on here.”
Strong said preparation has already started for reopening county government.
Protocols are being established at county buildings for sanitizing hands upon entry as well as requirements for cloth facial coverings for employees and citizens who enter. Work is being done to put up plexiglass in high-traffic areas.
As an example of how normal courthouse functions will have to adapt, Strong pointed out that accommodations are going to have to be made for jury trials where jurors sit elbow-to-elbow in jury boxes.
Strong reported that on a recent conference call with Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Madison Mayor Paul Finley and Deputy Commanding General Ed Daly the parties discussed reopening procedures for Redstone Arsenal, the county’s largest employer. A majority of Redstone’s employees have been teleworking.
The work that has been done the last five weeks has led Madison County to the point of being able to consider opening businesses, according to Strong.
“It’s my hope that the governor, based on the data that is being presented to her from the Alabama Department of Public Health and others, doctors and scientists, that are presenting her with evidence that we can potentially open,” he outlined.
Several times throughout the news conference, Strong implored his constituents to remain mindful of the same practices which have allowed Madison County to avoid large case numbers.
“We’ve got to keep our foot on the gas,” he stated. “I know we’re all anxious to get back to what will be our new normal, but to get Madison County and this region back to work, along with restarting our local economy, we have to have a healthy workforce to get back to work. We are one day closer to getting there, and I want to encourage everyone to remain active in stopping the spread of this virus.”
Strong sought to communicate a realistic view of what the health data might show after reopening.
“We understand there is a probability that when you do open, whenever that is, you will have a spike,” he explained. “We want to do everything in our power to reduce the number in that spike when we do open.”
No matter the length of time under stay-at-home orders, most experts believe there will be some increase in reported cases once people return to public activities.
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia