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: 307836

Reported Deaths: 7119
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20784248
Hinds19894408
Harrison17493302
Rankin13316275
Jackson13099243
Madison9896210
Lee9859169
Jones8293160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7189237
Lowndes6265144
Lamar610784
Lafayette6028117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4770129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4420139
Warren4281118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403775
Neshoba3988176
Lincoln3871108
Hancock372185
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322781
Pike3181104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296876
Copiah293065
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284868
Prentiss275659
Marion265979
Wayne261341
Leake261173
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245982
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213373
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158634
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126323
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120141
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81923
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 519071

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754131487
Mobile37774798
Madison33868494
Tuscaloosa25283443
Montgomery23969565
Shelby23112238
Baldwin20638300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14286311
Morgan14140268
Etowah13664345
Marshall11957219
Houston10383278
Elmore9994200
Limestone9814147
Cullman9475188
St. Clair9429234
Lauderdale9218227
DeKalb8747181
Talladega8060171
Walker7092275
Jackson6755110
Autauga6727103
Blount6488135
Colbert6205130
Coffee5401112
Dale4768110
Russell428938
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia388074
Dallas3527149
Chambers3500122
Clarke346360
Marion3066100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256458
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224955
Hale218775
Butler212366
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171540
Washington164038
Macon154848
Clay149454
Crenshaw149357
Cleburne146041
Lamar139334
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99328
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
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