“Next two weeks are critical:” Officials address Decatur’s response to COVID-19 pandemic


DECATUR, Ala. – Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling, Judy Smith from the Alabama Department of Public Health and First Bible Church Senior Pastor Steve Bateman emphasized the importance of social distancing and following the stay at home order during a news conference Monday morning.

City of Decatur

Mayor Bowling stated playgrounds and athletic courts remain closed, city hall is open by appointment only, and recycling is suspended.

Bowling said if residents need to get rid of recycliables, they can put them in their normal trash which continues to run as normal – Bowling added the city has collected 50% more garbage than normal.

The city has two upcoming events regarding the COVID-19 response.

Tuesday, April 6 at 2 p.m., there will be a town hall with the City, Decatur Police Chief Nate Allen, and Decatur Fire and Rescue Chief Tracy Thorton. Questions for this can be emailed to townhall@decatur-al.gov or sent to the Decatur Police Facebook page.

The City will host another news conference Wednesday, April 7 at 10 a.m.

Alabama Department of Public Health

Judy Smith reminded the public how fast the novel coronavirus spread.

She said on March 24, there was one case of novel coronavirus in Morgan County, 19 a week later, and there were 27 cases by Monday.

State data showed a similar trend. There were just over 500 cases two weeks ago, 947 a week ago, and there were 1,842 cases Monday morning.

Smith stated the next two weeks will be rough based on historical data and plotting, but said residents can make it through as long as they follow ADPH rules.

First Bible Church response:

Senior Pastor Bateman listed a four-part response First Bible Church is taking.

Bateman said most churches are complying with guidance from the CDC, ADPH, and Gov. Kay Ivey’s stay-at-home order. Those churches have been moving toward live streaming and drive-in services.

Bowling said the drive-in services should be a last resort, encouraging live streams if at all possible.

Bateman said he read a March 29 survey which showed 3% of churches meeting for Easter no matter what, calling those congregations “the exception, not the norm.”

Bateman stated First Bible views the temporary service cancelation “as a clear public objective.”

Bateman said younger members are helping the elderly in the church, picking up prescriptions and groceries for them.

The church is caring for the community as well, previously helping with food during spring break for Decatur City Schools students.

Bateman said all the churches that assisted with the food program stand ready to assist DCS in any way possible.

First Bible is also encouraging members to go and serve on their own. According to Bateman, many members are serving indidvually, with their service not organzied by the church.

Finally, Bateman said they were praying for leaders and the community, but also taking appropriate precautions under CDC and ADPH guidance: washing hands, social distancing, and suspending in person services.

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