Like most of the world, southeast Alabama has been through the wringer this year starting at the dawn of the coronavirus’ spread to the U.S.
First, people feared the unknown. Then, schools closed. People started working from home. Businesses shuttered – most temporarily and others permanently. Frontline healthcare workers responded to the call of duty, taking care of those who had fallen ill with the mysterious virus while learning how to treat it. Hospitals neared the brink of capacity until a statewide mask mandate successfully slowed the rate of hospitalizations.
As Thanksgiving approaches, many at-risk individuals will be unable to celebrate with their families in the traditional way as local cases have increased recently, making Houston County a high-risk zone for COVID-19 transmission, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s latest assessment.
However, with a vaccine expected to arrive to high-risk individuals and healthcare workers soon, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba thinks there is much to feel thankful for this season.
“I think the city has handled some stressful times very well,” he said. “As we move forward and are anticipating what comes next with COVID-19, let’s just remember to enjoy one another… and just be safe.”
Though COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations fluctuate daily, Dothan’s two major hospitals have yet to be overwhelmed as other places in the state and country have been.
“So far, I think we’re doing all right,” Saliba said. “I’m just grateful to be the mayor and thankful for where the city is during this time.”
He cautioned residents to be “extremely mindful” of family members who are older while gathering for Thanksgiving feasts on Thursday by following mask-wearing protocols or eating outside if possible, echoing sentiments of state health officials.