LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – Auburn and Opelika city leaders are considering issuing mandatory stay at home orders as COVID-19 deaths and infection continue infiltrating east Alabama. The order is not one either mayor wants to make, but will do so if needed to save lives, help businesses re-open faster and potentially save a beloved pastime, college football.
News 3 spoke with both Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller and Auburn Mayor Ron Anders who agree it’s a restriction both hope to avoid.
As of Monday, seven people have died from COVID-19 and dozens more are ill with confirmed or suspected cases at East Alabama Medical Center.
“It’s heartbreaking to know for families of these loved ones. It’s sad for those people with many of them probably dying without loved ones with them,” said Auburn Mayor Ron Anders.
During EAMC’s shift change supporters are gathering around the hospital’s parking deck, flashing vehicle lights in social distancing prayer recognizing heroic efforts of health care workers.
Along with prayer, both mayors are urging families to stay home, to save lives, the economy and even fall football.
“If we do what the professionals tell us to do it will be over sooner rather than later,” said Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller.
Auburn’s mayor is also concerned about the potential cancellation of college football and how it would impact Auburn University. Mayor Anders says it would be devastating for the local economy and spirit of Auburn.
“If we don’t get this virus under control by summer, then it will force the city to make some drastic cuts and services if football is compromised,” said Anders.
Sheltering at home means hanging out at home with the people you live with and not gathering for events with others. Church services, even Easter will need to be online. Going to the grocery store should not be a family outing. Mayor Fuller recommends sending one person with an organized list of what you need so you can get in and out as fast as possible.
Both Mayors say the majority of residents are listening and staying at home as much as possible. However, they have noticed certain groups, especially the younger generation not complying. The mayors are urging parents to get involved or they will act.
“We have to be responsible. If folks can’t do that or won’t do that it may become necessary for us and I suspect Auburn will too, a mandatory shelter at home order, I hope it doesn’t come to that,” said Fuller.
Auburn and Opelika Police are gently dispersing groups of people. The hope is residents will realize the seriousness of the pandemic and act with self-control. If not, the mayors are ready to step in for the protection of all.
“I would rather ask people to do the right thing, than tell them to do the right thing,” said Mayor Anders.
Keep in mind, 911 centers are urging you to call your doctor not them if you have COVID-19 concerns.