By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times
Citing the recent increase in patients hospitalized in Jefferson County with COVID-19, Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson issued an order Friday that will keep entertainment venues closed until June 6.
Those venues include night clubs, theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers, museums and indoor children’s play areas. Most of Birmingham is in Jefferson County.
The move comes one day after Gov. Kay Ivey announced that restrictions would be lifted on many entertainment venues, but her order allowed local health officials to impose stricter requirements.
“Jefferson County has seen an increasing number of new cases of COVID-19 per day, and increasing number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 per day, and at least 30 newly recorded deaths of people with COVID-19 in Jefferson County since May 8, 2020,” Wilson wrote in his order.
Wilson said he consulted with State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, who supported the move.
The number of new COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the state with some areas such as Montgomery seeing hospitals stretched to the limits to treat critically ill patients.
Wilson said Friday, “It’s not that (Jefferson County hospitals) are being overrun right now, they have plenty of capacity. We want to stay ahead of it and not get to the point where they are overrun.”
Health and government officials have maintained restrictions at nursing homes and hospitals.
“Regretfully, many of our nursing homes are still a hotbed of activity for COVID-19,” Ivey said. “And that’s why neither Dr. Harris nor I can, with a clear conscience, allow things to return to normal as it relates to reopening our nursing homes and hospitals to visitation beyond compassionate care situations.”
The Jefferson County order comes just ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, seen as the unofficial start of summer by many and a critical time for some entertainment venues.
Other places to remain closed in Jefferson County for another two weeks include venues for: concerts and adult entertainment as well as racetracks, indoor children’s play areas, bingo halls and social clubs.