Gov. Kay Ivey has extended the statewide mask requirement by five weeks to combat the spread of COVID-19, she announced Thursday morning during a live-streamed news conference.
Ivey’s initial order, requiring all Alabama residents to wear masks in public, was set to end Monday. Under the new order, Ivey said, masks will be required until Oct. 2.
Since Ivey first announced the order in July, she said, the state has seen infection rates and COVID-rates decline steadily.
“I have no doubt this is the result of our mask ordinance,” she said. “It’s up to each individual to do our part.”
Ivey also commended Tuscaloosa leadership, particularly Mayor Walt Maddox and University of Alabama President Stuart Bell, for making “difficult decisions” earlier this week.
Maddox on Monday issued an order to close bars in the city for 14 days and limit restaurants to table-service only. The University of Alabama on Friday announced a two-week moratorium on all in-person student events outside of class.
Jacksonville State University announced Wednesday it had also halted in-person activities and banned non-residents from visiting campus housing buildings, due to concerns regarding COVID-19. According to the school’s website, JSU was tracking 143 active cases as of Thursday afternoon.
State health officer Dr. Scott Harris said the state has confirmed almost 120,000 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, and nearly 2,000 confirmed and probable deaths from the virus.
While positive cases and deaths have declined in recent weeks, he said, he is concerned that the upcoming Labor Day holiday on Sept. 7 may prompt more social gatherings.
“The temptation to gather more in crowds is upon us,” Ivey said. “We don’t want to lose the ground we’ve already made.”
Harris said flu season is also coming soon, and urged everyone to get vaccinated, as he does every year.