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  • Alex Nelson

Governor Ivey extends statewide mask mandate until late January

This morning at 11 a.m., Governor Kay Ivey held a news conference updating citizens on the status of COVID-19 in Alabama and extending the current statewide Safer at Home order, which mandates that Alabama residents wear masks in public, to January 22, 2021 at 5 p.m. The current safety restrictions are set to expire this Friday, December 11, at 5 p.m.

Nationwide, there has been a surge in COVID-19 cases and healthcare professionals are worried that the trend will continue. Like most states, Alabama has been seriously impacted by the pandemic.

Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s State Health Officer, offered a bleak acknowledgement of the state’s troubling coronavirus statistics during the news conference, stating, “We are seeing more than 3,000 new cases per day for the last few days in Alabama.”

”We're looking at some pretty dark days for the foreseeable future," Holmes added.

Although alarming COVID-19 statistics are dominating news headlines, the virus has an extremely low mortality risk. The risk of death from coronavirus infection is, by some estimates, less than 3%. The majority of infected individuals are able to fully recover. Nevertheless, there is no dispute that the pandemic is disproportionately claiming the lives of Black and Hispanic Americans.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control released updated statistics showing that COVID-19 kills Black and Hispanic Americans at nearly three times the rate of white Americans. The newly calculated mortality information was shared with the public after Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wrote CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, requesting adjustments to existing COVID-19 mortality rates because prior numbers had failed to take into consideration the ages of those who have succumbed to the viral infection.

In her letter, Warren warned that, “by failing to adjust COVID-19 mortality rates by age in its public data releases, the CDC may not be providing an accurate assessment of the increased risk of death and serious illness for communities of color relative to White Americans of the same age.”

Previously released data from the CDC indicated higher infection, hospitalization, and death rates for African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American citizens than for white citizens.

The pandemic has also sounded a death knell for many small businesses in Alabama and across the nation. Stay-at-home orders have forced many entrepreneurs to close shop, shrinking “main street” economies and leaving many employees without work. As a result, sharp divides have developed between Americans who support economic preservation during the pandemic and those who advocate for lockdown policies that prioritize public health over economic health.

Elected officials in every state have been challenged by such opposing views as they attempt to respond responsibly to the ever-changing pandemic landscape. Governor Ivey made a passing reference to the unsustainable nature of an indefinite mask mandate in her remarks during this morning’s news conference.

"I'm willing to keep the mask order in place while acknowledging that sooner rather than later it will be up to each of us to do the right thing, regardless of a government mandate or not," Ivey said.

Since the pandemic began, more than 229,000 Alabamians have received a COVID-19 diagnosis, with roughly 168,387 of those individuals experiencing a full recovery, according to data from online coronavirus tracking website, Bama Tracker.

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