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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: 341862

Reported Deaths: 7533
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23783441
DeSoto23180283
Harrison20365329
Rankin15307290
Jackson15087251
Madison10917227
Lee10674179
Jones8969169
Forrest8621159
Lauderdale7839243
Lowndes7016151
Lamar696289
Lafayette6535124
Washington5589139
Pearl River5141152
Bolivar4949134
Oktibbeha491698
Panola4766112
Warren4709127
Marshall4691106
Pontotoc446273
Union432579
Monroe4322137
Neshoba4268181
Hancock423788
Lincoln4171116
Pike3650113
Leflore3619125
Tate352888
Alcorn349574
Sunflower347194
Adams340588
Scott340176
Yazoo338575
Copiah323468
Simpson322090
Itawamba314180
Coahoma313385
Tippah304768
Prentiss297863
Covington291883
Leake284675
Marion283681
Wayne276143
George270551
Grenada268888
Newton261564
Tishomingo239370
Winston236584
Jasper229548
Attala225973
Stone225337
Chickasaw218760
Holmes199274
Clay196754
Clarke186280
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181232
Smith178935
Yalobusha171340
Walthall145348
Lawrence141626
Greene139734
Amite136943
Noxubee134835
Perry133238
Montgomery132244
Carroll125931
Webster121032
Jefferson Davis116234
Tunica113427
Benton106225
Claiborne105031
Kemper102329
Humphreys100133
Franklin87723
Quitman84619
Choctaw82319
Wilkinson77732
Jefferson71128
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 577463

Reported Deaths: 11510
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson841981589
Mobile47171860
Madison37047533
Tuscaloosa26915465
Shelby26873256
Montgomery25918625
Baldwin24499328
Lee16949181
Calhoun15252332
Morgan15017290
Etowah14778370
Marshall12933235
Houston11774292
Elmore10761217
St. Clair10617252
Limestone10574158
Cullman10363205
Lauderdale10083254
DeKalb9382191
Talladega8836188
Walker7681287
Autauga7479114
Jackson7317117
Blount7266139
Colbert6635142
Coffee6163132
Dale5453117
Russell470642
Chilton4682117
Covington4649125
Franklin450081
Tallapoosa4440156
Escambia427882
Chambers3898125
Dallas3717163
Clarke367763
Marion3427106
Pike327879
Lawrence3225101
Winston294973
Bibb284565
Geneva276383
Marengo259967
Barbour246261
Pickens240062
Butler238272
Hale232778
Fayette225264
Henry209245
Monroe197241
Randolph196744
Cherokee196348
Washington180139
Macon168752
Crenshaw165558
Clay163759
Cleburne160245
Lamar149938
Lowndes144854
Wilcox130531
Bullock126142
Conecuh119630
Coosa116929
Perry109928
Sumter109032
Greene98736
Choctaw64325
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