The Tuscaloosa Police Department did not issue any citations for violations of the state's mask ordinance or social distancing guidelines this weekend despite strong words from Mayor Walt Maddox warning violators to shape up.

Maddox stated that both TPD and the University of Alabama Police Department would be "very active" in enforcing the state's mask ordinance last week.

According to a TPD spokeswoman, though, the police department had still not issued any citations as of Monday morning. Instead, city officials were on The Strip and in Downtown this weekend distributing masks to citizens who may not have easy access to a face covering.

Lt. Darren Beams, a Tuscaloosa Police officer, said he was pleasantly surprised to see widespread compliance with COVID-19 mandates downtown and on the Strip this weekend.

"Since the guidelines were put into place, our intention has been to educate people and provide them with masks if they need them," Lt. Darren Beams said. "We see the option to write a citation as a last resort reserved for people who refuse to comply. So far everyone we’ve encountered has been agreeable. I think everyone now seems to be aware of the guidelines and is following them."

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, Tuscaloosa County holds the fourth-highest total of all-time positive coronavirus cases in the state with over 4,000 cases. Despite the high number, the state has seen a decline in the rate of spread over the past few weeks.

The state recorded a 0.93 rate of transmission for the second week in a row, the lowest rate of transmission during the pandemic. Due to the lower rate of spread, the state has also recorded its lowest 7-day average since July 11.

In spite of the lower numbers, Maddox fears an increase of cases may be on the horizon with The University of Alabama set to begin classes next week.

Last week, the city council declared a state of emergency giving Maddox broad powers to issue executive orders and address problems in the city as they arise rather than waiting for the sometimes slow mechanics of traditional municipal government to play out.

"[The State of Emergency] wasn't about where we were, it's where we believed that was gonna be over the horizon and just to say I believe we made the right decision as a mayor and as a council," Maddox said in a Pre-City Council Meeting this Tuesday. "...I think we can anticipate a double bump which makes our decision all the more important as we will have Labor Day and what's really beginning in earnest now, the return of 20,000 plus citizens to our population."

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