Alabama governor extends mask order, requires for students

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is extending a state order requiring face coverings in public for another month.

Posted: Jul 29, 2020 12:40 PM
Updated: Jul 29, 2020 1:16 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday extended a state order requiring face coverings in public for another month and expanded it to include students in grade 2 and above in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 as schools reopen.

Ivey's action, announced during a Capitol news conference, added more than four weeks to an earlier order that had been set to expire on Friday. The mask order will now last through Aug. 31. Hospital officials had pushed for an extension, saying the state's intensive care units are nearly full because of the new coronavirus.

“Y'all, we just must remain vigilant if we are going to get our kids back in school and keep our economy open. Wearing a mask can't hurt, but it sure can help," Ivey said.

The Republican governor, in a nod to the opposition some conservatives have to the mask orders, said her job is “to do the right thing, not necessarily the most popular thing."

“These decisions are not easy, and they are certainly not fun," Ivey said.

State Health Officer Scott Harris said the extension was the right thing to do, particularly as students head back to school beginning next week. Alabama has had more than 81,000 people test positive for COVID-19, with more than 22,000 of those cases coming in the past two weeks.

Harris said the numbers may have flattened out over the past few days but it is too soon to know for sure. He said about 1,600 people with the coronavirus have been hospitalized in the state, a new high that he said is probably a reflection of social gatherings that took place over the July Fourth holiday.

“I know people don't like being told what to do, and I don't either, but I believe it's the right thing to do. ... But there is no argument about whether (masks) are effective," Harris said.

The mandate, which Ivey announced on July 15, requires anyone older than 6 to wear a mask when in public and within 6 feet (2 meters) of someone who is not a relative. It makes exceptions for people who have certain medical conditions, are exercising or performing certain types of jobs.

Harris said previously that it would take two, but preferably three weeks, to judge if the mandate was making a difference in transmission rates.

The governor, who is a former teacher, also urged school systems to gradually phase in in-person classes “if at all possible.”

“While I respect those districts that have opted to go to virtual classrooms, I feel with all my heart that a slide will come by keeping our kids at home,” Ivey said.

Alabama Superintendent Eric Mackey perviously estimated that 40% to 50% of public school students will be doing distance learning in the fall, either because their district is doing only online classes for the first nine weeks or because parents are choosing it as an option.

Hospital officials had urged Ivey to extend the order.

“We feel strongly that Governor Ivey should extend it for several more weeks,” Dr. Ricardo Maldonado with the East Alabama Medical Center said in a statement the hospital posted on Facebook. “Our COVID-19 census now is dangerously high.”

Maldonado said hospitals need to see their patient counts fall before the mask mandate is lifted.

Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association, said the association also supports an extension.

He said the state in recent days has seen a slight decrease in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, but he noted that as of Tuesday, 90% of the state’s intensive care beds were full, the highest number since the pandemic began.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313942

Reported Deaths: 7240
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21580258
Hinds20330415
Harrison17879309
Rankin13594278
Jackson13429246
Madison10088217
Lee9970174
Jones8370163
Forrest7670152
Lauderdale7188241
Lowndes6387146
Lamar622486
Lafayette6184118
Washington5332133
Bolivar4801132
Oktibbeha462198
Panola4582106
Pearl River4506146
Marshall4435103
Warren4386121
Pontotoc420172
Monroe4107133
Union410076
Neshoba4030176
Lincoln3962110
Hancock378486
Leflore3493125
Sunflower335990
Tate333384
Pike3316105
Scott315773
Alcorn312768
Yazoo311469
Itawamba299777
Copiah296865
Coahoma295179
Simpson294988
Tippah288168
Prentiss279760
Adams278782
Marion269080
Leake267473
Wayne262641
Grenada261386
Covington258281
George247848
Newton246261
Winston227081
Tishomingo226667
Jasper221048
Attala214273
Chickasaw207757
Holmes188873
Clay185254
Stone182433
Tallahatchie178541
Clarke177980
Calhoun170532
Yalobusha164238
Smith162334
Walthall133945
Greene130533
Lawrence128524
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123042
Carroll121828
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107033
Tunica105226
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96533
Kemper95728
Franklin83623
Quitman80716
Choctaw76318
Wilkinson67230
Jefferson65528
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 531404

Reported Deaths: 10985
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson765501522
Mobile41036805
Madison34789503
Tuscaloosa25788453
Montgomery24340589
Shelby23449249
Baldwin21154308
Lee15882171
Calhoun14511314
Morgan14306279
Etowah13843353
Marshall12232223
Houston10570281
Elmore10068205
Limestone9974151
Cullman9676194
St. Clair9661243
Lauderdale9427241
DeKalb8831186
Talladega8227176
Walker7241277
Autauga6926108
Jackson6814112
Blount6678137
Colbert6306134
Coffee5519119
Dale4838111
Russell441538
Chilton4296112
Franklin426082
Covington4129118
Tallapoosa4023152
Escambia393677
Chambers3573123
Dallas3551152
Clarke351161
Marion3122101
Pike310977
Lawrence300398
Winston274473
Bibb260964
Geneva250477
Marengo249564
Pickens234461
Barbour231057
Hale223077
Butler216069
Fayette212562
Henry188844
Cherokee185245
Randolph180542
Monroe177540
Washington167339
Macon159650
Clay156756
Crenshaw152557
Cleburne148941
Lamar142535
Lowndes138853
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110529
Perry107726
Coosa107628
Sumter104732
Greene92534
Choctaw60724
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