Statewide mask ordinance extended until August 31st + required for 2nd graders through college students

Gov. Kay Ivey and Dr. Scott Harris talking about the extension of the statewide mask ordinance
Gov. Kay Ivey and Dr. Scott Harris of ADPH at today’s press conference. Photo via Governor Kay Ivey

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

Even dogs can wear masks
Because every story is more fun when there’s a dog in it. Photo via Hand in Paw

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.

Coronavirus cases in Alabama - the numbers aren't good
That dark purple? Means our case numbers are really high. Photo via bamatracker.com

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.

Alabama's amended safer at home order
Gov. Ivey’s updated statewide COVID-19 Health Order. Photo via Governor Ivey’s website

The biggest change is for students

A student wearing a mask
Wouldn’t it be awesome if the Deathly Hallows symbol could conquer COVID? Photo and mask by Amy Atchison

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

Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State masks
A house divided. Photo and masks by Harry Pittman

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).

If you haven’t yet gotten on the #maskup train, we’ve got some great resources to help you get started

To mask or not to mask? Here is why it matters

Where can people acquire homemade cloth face masks in Birmingham? We have answers.

3 ways to make a no-sew face mask on the fly using household objects

How do you feel about the extended statewide mask mandate? Tag us @bhamnow and let us know!