Last Friday, I drove past iconic Samford Hall on Auburn University’s campus, enjoying my sun-drenched drive. The area was awash with people, young ladies adorned in their finery were posing for pictures. A throng of young men played kickball in a grassy area, others strolled, and all appeared oblivious Lee County residents have been devastated by COVID-19. No one wore a mask or gloves. 

I told an Auburn graduate what I had observed. 

“They’re all just stupid,”  he said.

Later that night my wife and I had to conduct some business. While we were out, she picked up food from a restaurant. She donned her mask and gloves. 

“The people in the restaurant looked at me like I had 10 heads, and I looked at them like, ‘You’re going to get corona.’ And I’m staying away from that place,” she said, miffed. 

The customers behaved like applying social distancing was as difficult as comprehending quantum physics.   

I pondered the perverse and pathological behaviors I witnessed. These people had little care for their safety or others’ safety. The whitehousegov. COVID-19 guidelines recommend people “strongly consider using face coverings while in public and particularly when traveling by mass transit.” Cdc.gov states, “Everyone should wear a cloth face covering when they have to go out in public, for example, to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.” 

This is Alabama; some may object. Well, Alabama Department of Public Health officer Dr. Scott Harris wears his mask in public and recommends Alabama citizens follow his example.                     

Attorney general Steve Marshall believes Birmingham has run afoul of constitutional protection by requiring residents to wear face coverings when away from home or face arrests or fines. Marshall’s zeal compelled him to write to Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and the Birmingham City Council. Marshall said the office’s COVID-19 response teams has been overwhelmed with calls concerning Birmingham’s new ordinance. Marshall was troubled law enforcement was being placed in a compromised position. Therefore, Marshall asked Woodfin to reconsider arresting and fining violators because that exposed Birmingham to unnecessary litigation. How thoughtful.

What’s the law and what’s it purpose? The Legal Dictionary defines it as any system of regulations to govern the conduct of people living in a community, society or nation. Therefore, officers pull over speeding drivers, arrest predators or arrest people who unlawfully discharge firearms. When police arrest suspects, those suspects can claim their arrest was unconstitutional. However, they must meet an immense burden of proof to prevail. Regardless, the municipality must enforce laws in an impartial manner, rescind the law or modify the law.

A May 1 news story cited four Alabama counties — Mobile, Montgomery, Jefferson and Franklin — which amassed 57% of all the new COVID-19 cases that occurred overnight in the state. As of 5:50 p.m. Thursday, the following counties have the most COVID-19-related deaths: Mobile (78), Jefferson (57), Tallapoosa (40), Lee (30) and Chambers (21), according to ADPH.

Jefferson County placed atop the most COVID-19 deaths and new COVID-19 cases, proof Woodfin acted to protect citizens from their reckless selves — based on data, not caprice. Woodfin reminded Marshall Birmingham was the first Alabama city to issue a stay-at-home order. Marshall criticized it as an overreach. However, Gov. Kay Ivey soon took similar action statewide. And most states eventually implemented stay-at-home orders. Woodfin said his action has the support of the White House, Centers for Disease Control, along with Harris and other health experts.

Whitehouse.gov checkmated Marshall’s zeal to zing Woodfin.

“State and local officials may need to tailor the application of these criteria to local circumstances (e.g. metropolitan areas that have suffered severe COVID outbreaks…).”

Marc Greenwood is a Camp Hill resident and regular columnist for The Outlook.