FOLEY — The Mobile County Health Department released an update on COVID-19 this week as concerns of another widespread surge loom.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows hospitalizations were up 14.3% and deaths were up 8.3% in recent weeks.

Numbers in Mobile County are much lower than they were at the height of the pandemic, but there are still hundreds of cases. So far this year, 5,786 cases have been reported; just last week, there were 322 known cases. That does not include those who took at-home tests and did not report.

In Baldwin County, health officials warn that there could be increased numbers with school back in session. They urged everyone to take the proper precautions.

State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine) spoke about the possibility of a COVID-19 resurgence and how he thought the state should respond in such an instance.

Historically, Elliott said he believes the state overacted.

“The whole country overreacted, but I think we [Alabama] overreacted less than the rest of the country,” Elliott said. “I remember distinctly when the governor said, ‘We’re closing the beaches,’ and I went, ‘They’re not yours. I mean no offense, but my property line goes to mean high tide, that ain’t yours, Governor. Good luck! You and what army? I mean, you can send Baywatch out there if you want to, but we ain’t got that either, so good luck.”

Elliott said he disagreed with the “draconian” way things were done. He added Alabamians should not have been put out of business because of the decisions made by State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and Gov. Kay Ivey. During that time, he said he pushed back on measures and helped everyone he could find a way to get around regulations.

“A guy in Robertsdale owns a furniture store and called me and said, ‘I can’t open my furniture store,” Elliott remembered. “I said, ‘Nope, but you can open an appliance store.’ He said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘Go buy a washing machine and stick it out front.’ And he did. I mean, I spent most of my time during those closures trying to help small business people, and I’m one of them, trying to figure out a way to stay open.”

As for reaction to another widespread outbreak, Elliott said state leaders need to stick to the principles and values of the people of Alabama. He said going forward, things will be different.

“I think there’s a hangover from that,” he continued. “And I think that politicians are looking at it going, ‘Did we do any good? I know people that we put out of business, and we didn’t have any authority to close the beaches; that’s kind of silly.’ I mean, what good is an executive order if you have no ability to enforce it? You darn well better know that if you say, ‘I’m the governor, and I’m going to do this,’ you better be able to enforce it … And so, my hope is that as we look at the ethics of some of these measures, the likelihood that we will head down that track is pretty slim.”

After the pandemic, Elliott said he wanted to address how the State Health Officer is appointed and look into the differences between the Medical Association and the State Board of Medical Examiners. However, there wasn’t enough support in the legislature to make changes.

“I think there could be more appetite in the legislature to deal with some of these things but in order for that to happen, we would have to have another overreach by the executive. Everything we talked about then was way after the fact and frankly, it wasn’t an issue anymore because it had gone away and we’re reactionary. We’re the wrong tool. We’re slow. We’re after the fact and I think that if you had an executive that was heading back down that route we wouldn’t do it. But to be honest, I don’t think this governor is going back down that route.”

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