Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, citing the statewide drop in COVID-19 numbers, today extended her mandatory mask-wearing order until Oct. 2.
And, she warned, “wearing a mask does not end when the football game begins.”
Photos at several high school football games across the state have shown fans not wearing masks or social distancing.
Ivey applauded the swift action of Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and University of Alabama President Stuart Bell to try to limit the spread of the virus.
Monday, Maddox ordered city bars to close until Sept. 8. Bell called the rise in the number of COVID cases “unacceptable,” and he prohibited social gatherings on and off-campus.
Their actions came after the university reported more than 500 confirmed virus cases among students, faculty and staff.
“I commend them for their focus on keeping students safe,” Ivey said.
The governor said she knows wearing a mask is not popular. “I don’t want to wear a mask, either. I can’t understand what people are saying when they are muffled behind a mask, and masks make my glasses fog up,” she said.
But, she said, the protection is needed at this time. “To get to normal, wear a mask,” she said. She extended her Safer at Home order during a press conference Thursday morning to continue the mask requirement and the other restrictions that have been in force statewide for another five weeks.
Ivey also warned residents to be careful mixing with other households during upcoming Labor Day activities and to wear masks.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said that, since the July 15 mask mandate, the daily average of hospitalizations for COVID has declined to its lowest point since July 4.
Harris said the positivity rate of persons tested for the virus has dropped from 14% to about 8%.
Alabama has more than 120,000 confirmed individual cases of the virus and 2,000 confirmed and probable deaths from COVID this year.
But another health threat also is on its way as the state nears flu season. Harris said he’s concerned about the impact flu cases could have on hospitals, which already are dealing with COVID cases.
Harris said there are “no issues” with the supply of flu vaccine, and he urged everyone to get the vaccine.