Alabama governor extends mask order, lifts occupancy limits

Alabama is extending a public health order requiring face masks in public but lifting occupancy limits on many places as the coronavirus pandemic worsens in the state.

Posted: Nov 5, 2020 12:57 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama is extending a public health order requiring face masks in public but lifting occupancy limits on many places as deaths and hospitalizations from the coronavirus pandemic worsen in the state, officials said Thursday.

Gov. Kay Ivey said during a Capitol news conference that the mask mandate and new order will last through Dec. 11. The Republican governor said she was trying to balance health concerns — as the state faces an uptick in cases — with economic ones such as alleviating some of the damage to retailers and restaurants.

Extending the mask order was needed to keep people safe and as well as allowing some aspects of life to go on more normally, she said.

“I understand folks are bone dead tired of the mask. I’m tired of it too but asking for the mask mandate is just a minimal ask to keep us safe so our business can stay open and people that are employed can keep working,” said Ivey, who faced some criticism from conservatives for mandating masks rather than making them voluntary.

Alabama’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic topped 3,000 this week as both cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations continued rising. Since the pandemic began, more than 200,000 Alabamians have tested positive. Health officials have credited the mask order with a drop in daily case numbers since it was first announced, but have also expressed concern about state numbers beginning to creep upward.

“More than 3,000 Alabamians have died from this deadly virus. While obviously some folks are more susceptible to COVID-19 because of age and preexisting conditions, no one is immune as we are all capable of contracting this virus,” Ivey said.

As before, anyone over the age of 6 will be required to wear masks in indoor public spaces and outdoors when it’s impossible to stay away from others. But occupancy limits are ending for retailers headed into the holiday shopping season, entertainment spots and fitness centers.

"Simply put, this should be welcome news as we get ready for the upcoming holiday season,” Ivey said of the lifted occupancy limits.

“From the outset of this pandemic, I said you can not have a life without a livelihood,” Ivey said.

Also, businesses including restaurants, hair salons and barber shops won’t have to follow social distancing requirements that mandate a distance of 6 feet (2 meters) of separation if people are using masks and are separated by an impermeable barrier or partition.

The statewide mask order, first announced in July and extended several times, was set to expire Sunday.

The 1,848 new cases reported Wednesday was the most in a single day since early August, according to Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association who is also Alabama’s former state health officer. More than 1,020 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase of 45% since late September.

Williamson said the group supports an extension of the requirement. So does Dr. Mike Saag, an epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who both survived COVID-19 and treats patients with the illness.

“It is needed now more than ever with the explosion of cases across the nation over the last 30 days,” Saag said.

Alabama’s death count is the 23rd highest in the nation, and the state is 22nd highest in the per capita death rate at nearly 62 for every 100,000 people, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The rolling average number of daily new cases has jumped by about 308, an increase of 29.4%, over the last two weeks.

While the virus causes only mild to moderate symptoms for most people, it is particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with other, serious health problems.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 819597

Reported Deaths: 15406
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1147901924
Mobile725791338
Madison52306697
Shelby37597350
Baldwin37245552
Tuscaloosa35101612
Montgomery34106740
Lee23526246
Calhoun22225488
Morgan20941378
Etowah19825500
Marshall18361304
Houston17384412
St. Clair16054339
Cullman15443293
Limestone15343199
Elmore15241286
Lauderdale14302295
Talladega13836283
DeKalb12649261
Walker11202370
Blount10192176
Autauga10043148
Jackson9871184
Coffee9210191
Dale8897185
Colbert8860201
Tallapoosa7084198
Escambia6772134
Covington6712183
Chilton6641162
Russell636659
Franklin5959105
Chambers5607142
Marion5005127
Dallas4973200
Pike4795106
Clarke475584
Geneva4571127
Winston4516103
Lawrence4321117
Bibb425186
Barbour357776
Marengo338090
Monroe331464
Randolph329764
Butler326396
Pickens316284
Henry312666
Hale311388
Cherokee302860
Fayette292880
Washington251551
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234663
Lamar224147
Conecuh186153
Coosa180240
Lowndes175164
Wilcox168839
Bullock151644
Perry138840
Sumter133038
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
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