Governor Ivey: Alabamians required to wear mask through August 31
Updated: Jul 30, 2020
Montgomery, Ala. - Governor Kay Ivey has extended the statewide mandatory mask order through August 31 to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The order was originally set to expire on July 31.
The amended order also requires students and faculty at schools from second grade through college to wear masks. As with the previous order, Alabamians and its visitors must continue to wear some form of face covering in any indoor space open to the general public, a vehicle operated by a transportation service, or an outdoor public space where ten or more people are gathered. Violators of the order may be arrested, face a misdemeanor charge, and be jailed and fined $500; though many localities have opted not to enforce the order. Ivey focused many of her comments today on the uncertainty surrounding of school re-openings in coming weeks. “We need to do everything we can to get our kids back in the classroom as soon as possible,” said Ivey. Fearing a 'slide' in students achievement, Ivey, who is a former educator, said “we do not have the luxury of not getting our young people back in school.” Ivey urged common sense and pushed school systems that have already decided to go virtual for the first few weeks of the school year to be diligent about getting children back in a physical classroom.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris suggested the pandemic still has a few months to go before Alabama moves past it. While hospitals are currently handling the surge in new patients, many hospitals are nearing full capacity. Harris said hospitals are setting all-time records with the number of current in-patients at approximately 1,600, with approximately 10,000 total hospitalizations since the onset of the virus in March. The state has plans, if need be, to assess potential sites with the Alabama National Guard to add capacity with field hospitals. Harris provided the following Alabama specific statistics about the virus:
81,687 confirmed cases
~22,000 confirmed cases in the last two weeks
1345 new cases added yesterday alone
1493 deaths since March
New cases in Alabama have begun to slowly decline after rapidly accelerating since mid-June, but the state is a long way from tackling the virus. According to BamaTracker the 7-day state average topped out at around 1850 new cases a day early last week. Today, the 7-day average is about 1630 new cases a day. Experts had suggested the benefits of a mask order would take a few weeks to begin to show up in the data and it appears, at least initially, it may be working.
Harris said while people do not like being told what to do, the mask order is “the right thing to do.” Ivey added that “wearing a mask can’t hurt, but sure can help.” Harris referred to the medical consensus that masks are the best way to mitigate the spread of the virus.