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: 481397

Reported Deaths: 9395
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32996486
Hinds30973586
DeSoto30491353
Jackson23650348
Rankin21267368
Lee14867220
Madison14145271
Jones13365226
Forrest13125238
Lauderdale11538305
Lowndes10418176
Lamar10184130
Pearl River9055219
Lafayette8218137
Hancock7501112
Washington7033150
Oktibbeha6937124
Monroe6491161
Neshoba6463201
Warren6439163
Pontotoc626593
Panola6219126
Bolivar6105144
Marshall6102121
Union573086
Pike5590136
Alcorn536090
Lincoln5297131
George470072
Scott456096
Leflore4468140
Prentiss445277
Tippah443680
Itawamba4430100
Adams4403116
Tate4351101
Simpson4324112
Wayne431566
Copiah431087
Yazoo423086
Covington414792
Sunflower4137104
Marion4087104
Leake397186
Coahoma394298
Newton368775
Grenada3553104
Stone350659
Tishomingo334689
Attala324886
Jasper313762
Winston303591
Clay295273
Chickasaw286665
Clarke280290
Calhoun265140
Holmes261887
Smith249549
Yalobusha220547
Tallahatchie218850
Walthall210558
Greene207845
Lawrence206033
Perry199353
Amite198152
Webster195942
Noxubee178239
Montgomery172054
Jefferson Davis167642
Carroll161937
Tunica152734
Benton142035
Kemper138440
Claiborne126634
Choctaw126326
Humphreys126337
Franklin116628
Quitman103626
Wilkinson101536
Jefferson88833
Sharkey62820
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 781915

Reported Deaths: 13798
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1109621748
Mobile706071213
Madison49359617
Baldwin36054485
Shelby35933311
Tuscaloosa33540540
Montgomery32996673
Lee22337218
Calhoun20935400
Morgan19666329
Etowah18890454
Marshall17575274
Houston16598377
St. Clair15287298
Limestone14442184
Cullman14441252
Elmore14299259
Lauderdale13395278
Talladega12781234
DeKalb12102233
Walker10495328
Autauga9611135
Blount9595154
Jackson9293152
Coffee8764174
Dale8485171
Colbert8448180
Tallapoosa6557177
Escambia6541117
Covington6409165
Chilton6314142
Russell600655
Franklin5744101
Chambers5350133
Marion4748116
Dallas4672185
Clarke459177
Pike458895
Geneva4333116
Winston420292
Lawrence4099108
Bibb405680
Barbour342969
Marengo324783
Monroe316652
Butler316088
Randolph302855
Pickens300673
Henry299657
Hale290483
Cherokee286752
Fayette276473
Washington245048
Crenshaw236768
Clay226264
Cleburne225750
Macon218057
Lamar192541
Conecuh180146
Lowndes170758
Coosa167533
Wilcox159636
Bullock148642
Perry136336
Sumter124136
Greene120542
Choctaw73326
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Fall has started off exactly as you would have anticipated and it looks like we should have a number of dry days still ahead, but this isn’t a permanent switch, because heat is pegged to return.
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