Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling tested positive Friday for COVID-19 after experiencing mild symptoms, according to a statement from the city of Decatur.

“I am receiving excellent care and feeling somewhat better,” Bowling said in the release. “My primary physician has scheduled for me to receive the monoclonal infusion on Monday morning. Please know that COVID-19 is very real. I pray that you stay well and safe.”

Bowling is receiving treatment at his home, where he continues to work, according to the statement.

City Council President Jacob Ladner will represent the city in public during Bowling's absence.

Bowling’s wife, Sherry, also tested positive.

Bowling's diagnosis comes as the state is seeing a surge in COVID cases.

Alabama saw 109,000 of its 361,226 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases reported in December. The surge came after the Thanksgiving holiday, and health officials said they are concerned caseloads will continue to grow in January from the fallout of Christmas and New Years gatherings.

"We are being overwhelmed right now," State Health Officer Scott Harris said. "I believe, unfortunately, we are going to see even worse numbers than we have now, and the ones we have now are pretty bad."

The cumulative number of confirmed and probable cases was 251,787 on Nov. 30 and rose to 361,226 cases on Dec. 31. While there were some backlogged cases recorded in December, almost all of the reported cases were from December.

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, the director of the Infectious Disease Division at the University of Alabama Hospital, said the amount of travel that took place over Christmas will likely trigger another rise in cases.

"This is probably going to portend a spike on top of a surge on top of a spike," Marrazzo said.

She emphasized UAB is still able to care for non-COVID patients, but said nonemergency procedures may have to be delayed if the situations worsens.

"We have tried to be cautious in our language and not to be scary or sensationalistic, but the reality is it's scary enough right now. We are doing OK, but there is a possibility we won't be OK in a couple of weeks," Marrazzo recently told reporters.

Alabama ranked sixth on the list of states with the most new cases per capita over the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The number of people in Alabama hospitals rose from 1,731 on Nov. 30 to a record 2,813 on Dec. 30.

"I think January is going to be worse at this point than we have imagined," said Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association.

Williamson said he watched several Christmas events online and was struck by the number of people not wearing masks.

"We will absolutely reap the whirlwind of new cases because of our unwillingness to simply do simple things," Williamson said.

Williamson said 47% of beds in state intensive care units are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Since the pandemic began, 4,827 people in Alabama have died from COVID-19, according to state numbers.

By comparison, in 2018, 1,269 people died from the flu and-or pneumonia; 13,473 died from heart disease; and 10,630 died from cancer, according to numbers from the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The uptick in cases also comes as what health officials hope is the light at the end of the tunnel with the arrival of the vaccine.

Alabama in December began vaccinating heath workers, and the vaccinations then began rolling out to nursing homes.

Vaccinations began Tuesday at Bill Nichols State Veterans Home, a facility where 46 deaths were attributed to the virus.

Harris estimated that the vaccine will be available to the next group in the state's vaccine plan — people over 75 and to certain essential workers in early 2021.

While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.

Harris estimated that people who are not older and do not have health conditions or jobs that make them more vulnerable will be able to get the vaccine in "late spring or early summer at the best."

He asked people to continue precautions to try to curb the spread of the virus.

"Most people aren't going to have vaccine for quite a while. We really need the public's help and cooperation in trying to protect our hospitals, our health care workers and our vulnerable people," Harris said.

Get Unlimited Access
$3 for 3 Months
Subscribe Now

After the initial selected subscription period your subscription rate will auto renew at $8.00 per month.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.