Alabama governor issues statewide mask requirement

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is adding a mask requirement to the state’s safer-at-home order amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a news conference Wednesday, Ivey said the number of positive cases and hospitalizations is going in the wrong direction, and she urged people to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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

Overnight, the state had 2,141 new positive COVID-19 cases, with 1,183 deaths since the state started keeping track.

“Folks, the numbers just do not lie,” she said.

The new requirement calls for people to wear a covering over their mouth and nose in public places within 6 feet of people and where there are gatherings of 10 or more people. It contains exceptions for children ages 6 and younger and people with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a covering.

The order goes into effect at 5 p.m. July 16 and lasts through the end of the month.

There also are exceptions for people who are seated in a restaurant or eating and drinking, or for people receiving a service such as a dental or medical procedure. People also can remove their coverings to identify themselves, according to the order.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said a third of the state’s total cases have come up in the last two weeks. That increase isn’t due to more testing, he said, because data shows the percentage of positive tests is also going up.

“Alabama’s not headed in the right direction,” he said. “I believe this mask ordinance is the right thing to do because it will help prevent disease transmission.”

There is the possibility of a $500 fine and jail time for people who do not comply, but Ivey said the goal is not to throw people in jail for not masking.

“The goal is to demonstrate the importance, the urgency, of engaging this important tool that we all have access to,” she said. “That’s the face covering.”

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