COVID-19 question of the day: Were beaches closed too late?

Coronavirus

GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — Each night on News 5 at 10, we’re answering your questions about coronavirus. If you have a question, call our coronavirus hotline at 251-662-3055 and leave us a message.

Christy in Gulf Shores says: “I watched News 5 earlier tonight and heard about the spring breakers from Wisconsin who traveled to Gulf Shores testing positive for coronavirus. Do our city officials think they should’ve closed our beaches sooner?”

Gulf Shores city officials tell WKRG News 5 that they’re doing everything they can help stop the spread.

Monday afternoon, University of Wisconsin-Madison officials confirmed to News 5, multiple spring breakers from the school who spent time in Gulf Shores did test positive for COVID-19 when they returned home. the students started their spring break in Nashville, Tennessee on March 13, then moved their trip to Gulf Shores on March 16.

As far as the question, “Should beaches have been closed sooner?” Gulf Shores Director of Recreation and Cultural Affairs Grant Brown says, “It’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback,” but city leaders have been doing everything the governor and state health officials have instructed them to do. He says they closed public beaches as soon as they were told to, and closed health and recreation centers where people use shared equipment. They’re encouraging residents to conduct business online, and this past weekend, they closed public playgrounds. Brown says some preventative measures started even before beaches closed.

“We took advantage of the opportunity to get additional sanitizing stations in our municipal facilities and in our public restroom facilities and started doing extra sanitation and doing all those things really early on and have followed the department of public health’s actions to the T and I feel like we’re doing everything that we can right now,” he said.

Brown says city service employees are practicing social distancing and encourages everyone to do the same.

He said, “We don’t know exactly where the spring breakers contracted the virus, whether it was here in Gulf Shores or if they were infected when they came here or when they were coming to or from our area, but all we can all do individually is just practice the social distancing try to slow this down and be safe, wash your hands and do all the things the experts are telling us to do on a regular basis.”

Brown says he hopes everyone starts taking this seriously, and when that happens, we’ll all be able to enjoy our beaches again.

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