Mobile Mayor and Health Officer at odds over new health order

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Health Officer Bernard Eichold both held press conferences about Coronavirus on Wednesday afternoon, but they were not necessarily in agreement.

The differences appeared to stem from Doctor Eichold’s new health order that went into effect on Wednesday. Doctor Eichold said the changes are being made to keep everyone safe, but Mayor Stimpson seemed not too happy about restaurants being told to keep guests out.

Mobile County Health Officer Dr. Bernard Eichold said, “It’s not easy to make this decision, but I think it’s the right one to do right now.” 

Part of that decision includes limiting restaurants to carry out, or delivery only, which is something Mayor Sandy Stimpson seemed against at his separate meeting, held before Dr. Eichold announced he would be holding a later press conference.

Mayor Sandy Stimpson said, “Doctor Eichold has the authority to do what he did, that is not what I would have done, and I’ll leave it at that.”

Dr. Bernard Eichold responded saying, “We can disagree on how to handle this particular situation.” 

Restrictions are just one of the issues the two leaders disagreed on at separate meetings on Wednesday afternoon.

Dr. Eichold said, “For a pandemic we have the strategic national stockpile which is a federal asset that when the president of the united states declares a state of emergency, then everybody, all states, or impacted areas have access.”

Mayor Stimpson said, “There is a, I would say a conversation, or a battle going on to get the test kits.”

News 5 asked Dr. Eichold about those kits the Mayor addressed in his earlier meeting. Dr. Eichold said, “The reason we are not doing more testing is because we do not have personal protective equipment, and we do not have kits. Those are controlled by the federal government.” 

At his press conference, Mayor Stimpson continued saying, “Other places are getting test kits, and Mobile is not getting them, and I just wonder if our voice is being expressed… My hope is that Doctor Eichold understands that he is the point person on that and that he’ll make it happen.”

Dr. Eichold said, “It’s not a lack of desire or will on the Mobile County Health Department, or the Alabama Department of Public Health.”

Doctor Eichold believes the differences between himself and the mayor were mainly due to miscommunication. He said he will make sure the two are on the same page going forward.

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