In an attempt to stem the rising tide of COVID-19 in Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey announced she will extend the statewide mandatory mask until August 31. The amended #saferathome order also requires second graders through college students to wear masks at school where possible. Here’s what we know.
Mandatory Masks extended until August 31st
At a press conference today, July 29, Governor Ivey talked about how we need to do everything we can to “get COVID in the rearview mirror.”
“Tough decisions are a lot easier to make when you are on the sidelines than when you are in the arena.Gov. Kay Ivey
According to Dr. Scott Harris of the Alabama Department of Public Health, Alabama is seeing a similar increase in cases after July 4th to what we experienced after Memorial Day. “Overall, the numbers are not encouraging,” he said.
Since the pandemic began, 1493 Alabamians have died, and hospitals have been reporting all-time highs, with just under 1600 patients currently hospitalized for COVID-19 throughout the State.
Since March, according to Dr. Harris, there have been more than 10 thousand total hospitalizations in the state, and over five thousand healthcare workers have been infected.
The biggest change is for students
Before today’s press conference, word on the street was that individual school district would be deciding whether or not (or when and where) kids would be wearing masks at school. However, today’s order established new rules across the state.
Whenever practical, second graders through college students will be required to wear masks at school.
Ivey pointed out both as a former teacher and as President of the State School Board just how important a return to in-person learning is for the long-term well-being of students.
She referenced how next to the parents, the teacher is often a loving and positive influence in a child’s life, and it’s important to protect the health and safety of teachers as well as support staff in schools.
The time for mixed messages has passed
Although both Ivey and Harris have acknowledged that they don’t love wearing masks, both emphasized that they believe this is the right thing to do.
Harris apologized for the mixed messages about the effectiveness of masks early on, and both reiterated that the consensus between physicians, public health experts and medical researchers is that masks are really the best tool we have to help prevent transmission of the disease, apart from having everyone locked down in their houses (which no one really wants to do again).
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