Spike in coronavirus cases linked to candidate forum closes down part of small Alabama town

Published 12:36 pm Wednesday, July 29, 2020

A small Alabama town has closed several of its government offices after a spike in coronavirus cases, some of which were linked to a forum featuring candidates running for mayor and city council.

The city hall, public library and several businesses in Hartford were closed by Tuesday, according to social media posts from the town’s police department.

Last week, the Chamber of Commerce in the town of about 2,600 hosted the candidate forum and meet-and-greet at a local restaurant, The Dothan Eagle reported. At least seven cases have since been linked to the event, according to Geneva County Emergency Management Director Eric Johnson.

The emergency management agency provided masks, but many of the approximately 40 attendees were pictured without them on, Johnson said, citing photos from the event.

“I think everybody suddenly understands in Hartford the gravity of the situation,” the newspaper quoted Johnson as saying.

As of Tuesday, there were just under 200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout all of Geneva County, about 80 of which were confirmed in the past two weeks, The Eagle said.

Alabama has reported more than 80,000 cases with nearly 1,450 deaths.

Hartford is about 100 miles south of Montgomery.