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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: 308111

Reported Deaths: 7122
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20826248
Hinds19910411
Harrison17510302
Rankin13334276
Jackson13118243
Madison9908210
Lee9871170
Jones8297160
Forrest7525147
Lauderdale7198237
Lowndes6272144
Lamar611084
Lafayette6039117
Washington5281133
Bolivar4772129
Oktibbeha455897
Panola4445103
Pearl River4428141
Warren4284118
Marshall4276100
Pontotoc416972
Monroe4061132
Union403975
Neshoba3994176
Lincoln3871109
Hancock372885
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329589
Tate322782
Pike3188104
Scott310872
Yazoo304468
Alcorn298065
Itawamba297177
Copiah293265
Coahoma289778
Simpson288284
Tippah284868
Prentiss275759
Marion266079
Leake261373
Wayne261341
Grenada255384
Covington254780
Adams246082
Newton245161
George238147
Winston225981
Tishomingo222267
Jasper219748
Attala213473
Chickasaw205057
Holmes186872
Clay182854
Stone179331
Clarke177076
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163531
Yalobusha159236
Smith158834
Walthall130643
Greene129433
Lawrence126423
Noxubee126233
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120926
Amite120141
Webster113532
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102725
Claiborne101330
Benton97325
Kemper95428
Humphreys94332
Franklin82123
Quitman78916
Choctaw73417
Wilkinson64928
Jefferson64828
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 520503

Reported Deaths: 10722
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754091487
Mobile38938798
Madison33898495
Tuscaloosa25297443
Montgomery23992567
Shelby23124239
Baldwin20652300
Lee15541165
Calhoun14301311
Morgan14145270
Etowah13665346
Marshall11967219
Houston10381278
Elmore10001200
Limestone9822147
Cullman9481188
St. Clair9435234
Lauderdale9223227
DeKalb8748181
Talladega8071171
Walker7100275
Jackson6762110
Autauga6734103
Blount6497135
Colbert6210130
Coffee5404112
Dale4766110
Russell429038
Franklin419982
Chilton4087109
Covington4056114
Tallapoosa3898146
Escambia388574
Dallas3531149
Chambers3503122
Clarke346560
Marion3066100
Pike305876
Lawrence295395
Winston272572
Bibb256459
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens233059
Barbour225255
Hale218775
Butler212566
Fayette209260
Henry187744
Cherokee182144
Randolph176941
Monroe172040
Washington164238
Macon154848
Clay149555
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146241
Lamar139334
Lowndes136553
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109128
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99328
Greene91034
Choctaw58724
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Isolated showers will linger in our area for the overnight hours. While, most of our Thursday will be on the dry side. More showers are in the weather forecast by Friday evening and into our Saturday morning. Beyond that, unseasonably cool temperatures are the rule.
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