Alabama, Dr. Scott Harris, Boston discussed on All Things Considered
I'm Mary Louise Kelly and I'm Ari Shapiro Cove in 19 infections are now on the rise in 40 states, and that is forcing many governors to rethink their reopening plans in Alabama yesterday, Governor K. I've extended her state's safer at home orders until the end of July. Well, we're not overwhelmed yet. We should not think that because I will Some of fields more normal than spraying that we're back to normal fact his folks way are still in the thick. Of this virus disease, and it is deadly. The state is now logging an average of 1000 new cases a day. Hospitalizations are at their highest level since the pandemic began. Dr. Scott Harris is Alabama's state health officer, and he joins us now welcome to all things considered. You are thieves safer at home order that the governor extended yesterday is largely a set of recommendations. Why not go farther and put restrictions in place to get this under control? I think we certainly would prefer to have additional restrictions that we felt like they could be effective. In fact, the current safer at home order has restrictions on retail capacity on restaurants, including capacity in certain sanitation and hygiene practices. It continues to have some Physical distancing requirements related to groups and, frankly, we don't necessarily get the compliance we would like to see even with the current orders and plenty You're saying that you would put more restrictions in place if you felt like they could be effective. Other states have like closed bar's. For example, Alabama has not. Are you saying in order to close bars wouldn't be effective. I think in order to close bars would be effective in many ways, but not as effective, perhaps as things that I wish we could have done a few months ago. We ask a lot from the state originally with our stay at home order. And for the most part, people complied. But it really at this point that the state does not really have an appetite for AA lot more restrictions. And you know, By the time our stay home order was ready to be rescinded. We had quite a number of people who were flaunting the order. We had law enforcement. There was Had stated publicly they were not going to enforce the order. And frankly, it's very difficult. Tio put help voters in place if they're going to be flaunted, so just to make sure I understand you correctly. You're saying something like An order requiring people to wear masks instead of just recommending, which is the current state of play. An order requiring people to wear masks might be effective might save lives but would not be followed by people in Alabama. So there's no point in putting such an order in place. Is that right? No, I think it's very clear that orders to wear masks are not being followed in many cases already. What we learned is that we absolutely have to have local buy in and and support of local officials and local legislators. If we're going to have success with these orders, we have encouraged municipalities throughout the state to, for example, have mask ordinances, and in fact, many have and yet enforcement has been a big issue. So it has been very difficult to contemplate a health order that would apply to all parts of the state big and small. At the same time, Many mayors have said that they would have an easier time controlling local outbreaks if the state had a stronger response. I mean, they're saying you're kind of hanging him out to dry here. No. Well, we're actually in Alabama are mayors actually have the authority to institute those orders? Anytime we would like in many of them have? I think it's easy for them to Blame the Health Department when it's actually within their ability to do that, if they would choose to do so. Another area where Alabama differs from state. Seeing spikes like California and Florida. Is that those states of closed beaches. Alabama has not. Why leave them open? I think closing beaches actually would help prevent transmission of disease. There's no question about that. And yet, as we begin to open things back up, regardless of the rules that are in place, we still have difficulty you have Inc from the public in many of those areas, so if it would be incredibly effective, I think that would certainly be something we would like to do. Just not convinced that would be the case. How does politics play into this? I mean, does the political will exist to do the things that need to be done to keep people in Alabama safe? I think it depends on what things you think need to be done. There's a lot of opposition to things that people feel like is an infringement of their personal liberties. It's very frustrating to us in public health. We feel like we have, you know the data to support what we want to do, and we're trying to make recommendations to keep people healthy. And yet, unfortunately, it feels like the science doesn't win the arguments all the time. You know, depending on who we're discussing them with. It's really kind of a mixed bag around the state. Dr. Scott Harris is the state health officer for the state of Alabama. Thank you for joining us today. Thank you for having me. To Boston. Now. That's where members of the Boston Art Commission voted unanimously last night to remove the city's copy of Thomas Balls, 18 76 Emancipation Memorial sculpture. It portrays a formerly enslaved man at the feet of Abraham Lincoln. Reporter Crystal Aguilera with NPR's member station. W bur has more. It's the job of public art is to make an impact. Boston artist story. Bullock says The perspective of the creator is equally important. Tuesday. He maintained that the sculpture of Lincoln and the newly liberated Man is a whitewash portrayal that denigrates an entire group of people. This is a frozen picture. This man is kneeling. He will never stand up. There is no other memorial in this city that requires viewers. To fill in the blanks as to what's about to happen. Why us This image is problematic because it feeds into a narrative that black people need to be led and freed a narrative that seems very specific to us for some reason. Why is our traumas of glorified similar to the issues of Confederate memorials around the nation? The sculpture has been controversial for years. The original in D. C was fully funded by formally enslaved peoples, but designed without their input. Howard University student and Massachusetts resident named Hannah Beset called the statue on Affront to the movement happening around the country..