Alabama governor issues statewide mask order

Alabama governor issues statewide mask order
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Alabama Gov. Kay IveyKay IveyRoy Moore sues Alabama over COVID-19 restrictions Officials warn of 'catastrophic' flooding as Hurricane Sally makes landfall in Alabama Trump tells Gulf Coast residents to prepare for 'extremely dangerous' Hurricane Sally MORE (R) announced a mandatory statewide mask order Wednesday, citing a 50 percent increase in new COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks.

“Despite all our best efforts, we’re seeing increases in cases every day still occurring and we’re almost to the point where hospital ICUs are overwhelmed,” Ivey said at a press conference.

Alabama reported 2,141 new cases overnight, bringing the state’s total number of confirmed cases to more than 58,000.

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Ivey, who was reluctant to issue a mask order earlier in the pandemic, said she believes it will be hard to enforce the order.

“I still believe this is going to be a difficult order to enforce, and I always prefer personal responsibility over a government mandate, and yet I also know with all my heart that the numbers and the data over past few weeks are definitely trending in the wrong direction,” she said.

“This mask order is hard to enforce, so once again I’m calling on everyone in our state to practice personal responsibility and wear a mask,” she added.

More than 20 states have mask requirements as emerging research shows it is effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19. 

In Alabama, people must wear masks or face coverings when in public and in close contact with other people, including at indoor spaces open to the public, and outdoor spaces where 10 or more people are gathered. 

The mask order takes effect Thursday at 5 p.m. and expires July 31.

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However, Ivey indicated she will not yet roll back some of the state’s reopening efforts. Gyms, salons, restaurants, bars, beaches, bowling alleys, casinos, arcades, theaters and retail stores have all been allowed to open at reduced capacity. 

“Clearly there are some other more restrictive actions we could take such as closing things back down but I don’t want to go there unless there are absolutely no other options available,” she said. 

States experiencing large outbreaks, including California and Florida, have ordered bar closures as experts warned they were becoming a dangerous source of spread in their communities. 

COVID-19 spreads easier indoors compared to outdoors.

Updated 1:01 p.m.