Entertainment venues across Alabama reopened Friday, but not in the state’s most populous county. Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson ordered them to remain closed until June 6. The directive applies to theaters, museums, nightclubs, and similar establishments where people gather in large numbers. Wilson said the decision was made in conjunction with State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, even as Gov. Kay Ivey allowed entertainment venues to reopen in other parts of the state.
At a press conference, Wilson said he made the decision because “of the increasing numbers of cases, and the increasing number of people in the hospital with COVID-19.” The total hospitalizations in Jefferson County was 130 at the time of the announcement, up from 103 two weeks earlier. The latest data show that two to three people are dying per day in Jefferson County from COVID-19.
“Even though things are opening up, it does not mean things are better in our community,” Wilson emphasized.
Wilson commended the community’s testing efforts and reiterated the importance of wearing face coverings in public. Face coverings are mandatory in Birmingham through May 29th. Wilson said increased testing capacity will allow the county to begin more preventative measures. This includes rolling out new programs in confined communities such as homeless shelters, jails, and treatment centers. Wilson also encouraged “high contact” workers, such as cashiers, wait staff, and retailers, to get tested even if they don’t have symptoms.
Jefferson County is the only county to keep entertainment venues closed, even though infection rate remains lower than many parts of the state.