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Alabama gov to let statewide mask mandate expire Friday

Alabama gov to let statewide mask mandate expire Friday
© Courtesy of Governor Kay Ivey, YouTube

Alabama Gov. Kay IveyKay IveyOvernight Health Care: UK coronavirus variant now most common strain in US | Over 500K sign up for ObamaCare in special period | EU finds 'possible link' between AstraZeneca vaccine, blood clots Alabama gov to let statewide mask mandate expire Friday Here's who's eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in each state MORE (R) says she is letting the state’s mask mandate expire Friday.

Ivey issued a health order on Wednesday under which masks will no longer be required when in public or when in close contact with other people. The order is currently set to remain in effect until May 5.

The governor said during a news conference that she is still encouraging people to wear masks and will continue to do so herself around others. She further said that businesses can still require masks.

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The change comes after Ivey extended the state’s mask mandate early last month, saying at the time that the state wasn’t ready yet despite falling coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Her decision at the time came in stark contrast with other GOP governors, such as Texas's Greg Abbott and Mississippi's Tate Reeves, who were lifting their states' restrictions.

However, Ivey said on Wednesday that lifting the mask mandate now is “the right thing” to do.

“We know that wearing the mask has been one of our greatest tools in combatting the spread of the virus, and that, along with practicing good hygiene and social distancing, has helped us keep more people from getting sick, or even worse, from dying,” she said.

The seven-day Alabama average for new COVID-19 cases as of Monday was 328 per day, a 92 percent drop from the high reached on Jan. 11 and the lowest since last spring, Ivey said. In addition, the seven-day average of people in hospitals for COVID-19 was 331 per day, also the lowest since last year.

Nearly 1.2 million people in the state have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, she said.

“We’re finally rounding the corner. And while we haven’t whipped this deadly disease just yet, it appears that — thank the good Lord — we’re still in the home stretch,” Ivey said.