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Hospitals, doctors urge governor to extend Alabama mask rule

Kay Ivey | Photo: MGN Online

The Alabama Hospital Association and state doctors are urging Gov. Kay Ivey to extend a statewide rule requiring face masks in public.

Posted: Sep 28, 2020 3:34 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Gov. Kay Ivey should extend the statewide rule requiring face masks in public, which health officials credit with stemming the spread of COVID-19 in the state, the head of the Alabama Hospital Association and a doctor's group said Monday.

The number of new cases of COVID-19 confirmed daily has fallen since reaching a high in the summer, and the reduction in the spread of the new coronavirus is all but certainly tied to the masking rule, which took effect in mid-July and is set to expire Friday, said Dr. Donald Williams, president of the association.

“The one thing that seems to have changed in the course of the pandemic is when the mask order was implemented," said Williamson. The association supports continuing the requirement through the end of the year and possibly longer, he said.

The Medical Association of the State of Alabama, with about 5,000 member doctors, also supports extending the rule, executive director Mark Jackson said.

"It has helped mitigate some of the positive tests. Sometimes it is a hassle to wear, but we think it is worth the hassle,” he said.

Ivey and state health officials are weighing their options and will announce a decision this week, the governor's office said, but Ivey already has indicated she plans to keep the face mask order in place.

Speaking to Alabama Public Television in an interview aired Friday, Ivey said she knew some people have “grumbled” about the order, yet schools and businesses have reopened and unemployment has fallen since earlier in the pandemic.

“I don’t like the mask, either. My glasses fog up. It’s a pain in the rear. But at the same time it’s working, and what’s working we need to stick with,” Ivey said.

Alabama has seen about 2,500 deaths from COVID-19, which is caused by the new coronavirus, and some 153,000 cases of the illness. Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of new cases in the state has decreased by 102 a day, a decline of 11.1%.

While most people develop only mild or moderate symptoms from the illness, it can be deadly to people with other serious health problems and the elderly.

During a news conference in Decatur, Mayor Tab Bowling urged residents to keep wearing masks in public, as required for anyone who isn't at least 6 feet (2 meters) from someone else, and noted that high school football coaches are wearing them on the sidelines during games.

“We ask that you do the same,” he said.

While state hospitals were so full of COVID-19 patients at one point they have only 9% of their intensive care beds available, Williamson said the numbers have fallen so much that 19% of ICU beds were available now.

Masks likely will be needed in public until an effective vaccine is distributed widely, which likely won't happen before 2021, he said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 479326

Reported Deaths: 9353
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32779484
Hinds30924582
DeSoto30319353
Jackson23542341
Rankin21235366
Lee14803219
Madison14120271
Jones13327223
Forrest13078236
Lauderdale11501303
Lowndes10377176
Lamar10163130
Pearl River9008217
Lafayette8193137
Hancock7404111
Oktibbeha6909122
Washington6900150
Monroe6459159
Neshoba6441201
Warren6387163
Pontotoc623093
Panola6203125
Bolivar6072144
Marshall6068121
Union571386
Pike5574135
Alcorn533289
Lincoln5283131
George466072
Scott454796
Leflore4444140
Prentiss443377
Tippah442180
Itawamba441599
Adams4376116
Tate4327101
Simpson4313112
Wayne430766
Copiah429587
Yazoo419686
Covington413292
Sunflower4123104
Marion4073104
Leake395486
Coahoma391098
Newton367274
Grenada3543104
Stone350359
Tishomingo333288
Attala324286
Jasper313162
Winston303091
Clay294173
Chickasaw286265
Clarke279890
Calhoun263940
Holmes261387
Smith248048
Yalobusha219647
Tallahatchie217550
Walthall209958
Greene206845
Lawrence205732
Perry198553
Amite197651
Webster195042
Noxubee177739
Montgomery171654
Jefferson Davis167442
Carroll161437
Tunica150834
Benton141533
Kemper138039
Claiborne126134
Choctaw126026
Humphreys125937
Franklin116328
Quitman103426
Wilkinson101536
Jefferson87333
Sharkey62320
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 778549

Reported Deaths: 13665
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1105871747
Mobile704651206
Madison49152610
Baldwin35946479
Shelby35796302
Tuscaloosa33410532
Montgomery32906672
Lee22231216
Calhoun20791397
Morgan19605326
Etowah18837449
Marshall17465272
Houston16452368
St. Clair15233293
Limestone14376182
Cullman14348246
Elmore14241256
Lauderdale13298278
Talladega12699230
DeKalb12036233
Walker10430323
Autauga9568133
Blount9555152
Jackson9235146
Coffee8728169
Colbert8426179
Dale8410170
Escambia6526114
Tallapoosa6501172
Covington6396163
Chilton6293141
Russell598555
Franklin5719100
Chambers5315133
Marion4734115
Dallas4665182
Clarke457076
Pike456294
Geneva4315116
Winston417192
Lawrence4086108
Bibb401680
Barbour341968
Marengo323183
Butler314988
Monroe314652
Pickens300470
Randolph299955
Henry298356
Hale289383
Cherokee284652
Fayette275672
Washington244848
Crenshaw235168
Clay225163
Macon217657
Cleburne217149
Lamar192140
Conecuh179646
Lowndes170158
Coosa166432
Wilcox155736
Bullock147742
Perry136036
Sumter124136
Greene120142
Choctaw72826
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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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