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Selma Mayor orders face masks, joining other local leaders in response to COVID-19

An individual face medical surgical mask on Alabama State flag Background. Health mask. Protection against COVID-19 virus, influenza, SARS, Coronavirus

Selma Mayor Darrio Melton on Friday signed an order requiring people to wear face masks while in public, with some exceptions, to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Melton’s order makes exceptions for those in the outdoors, unless they’re around 10 people or more or cannot maintain six feet of distance from others, and those working alone in separate offices or non-public workplaces, according to the Selma Times-Journal. 

Melton’s order goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The newspaper noted that City Council members on Tuesday agreed to buy 500 masks per ward, to be given out to residents. 

Melton’s decision to issue the executive order came on the same day Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson issued a mask order for that county. Wilson’s order essentially extends the scope of a separate mask ordinance in the city of Birmingham to now include communities outside the city.

Dallas County added 307 new COVID-19 cases within the last two weeks, which is 42 percent of the county’s total case count, of 728. 

Jefferson County saw 149 new cases on Friday, the largest single-day new case count recorded in the county, bringing the county’s total case count to 3,481.

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed announced an executive order on June 17 mandating the wearing of face masks in the city after cases and hospitalizations there surged.

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Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson in a series of tweets Friday announced that he’d asked the city’s Council to pass an order requiring the public wear masks in that city. Mobile County added 372 new COVID-19 cases within the last week. 

“This step was necessitated by the rising number of COVID infections over the past week,” Stimpson tweeted. “There is no question that masks can prevent the spread of COVID-19. The virus is actively spreading in our community and remains a serious threat to public health.” 

Alabama’s 964 new cases on Friday was the third-highest daily count since the pandemic began, and came the day after the state recorded its highest daily new cases — with 1,129 recorded on Thursday.

Hospitalizations are up as well. On Thursday, there were 694 hospitalized COVID-19 patients across the state, the highest single-day of hospitalizations since the crisis began. The total dropped to 658 on Friday with fewer hospitals reporting data.

The decision by these local mayors to take action to slow the spread of COVId-19 in their communities comes as state leaders haven’t signaled a desire to pass broader protective measures, including a statewide mask order, as was issued by North Carolina’s Governor on Wednesday as cases there spike. 

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris told APR on Thursday that he’s concerned over the surge in new cases and hospitalizations statewide, but that another partial shutdown doesn’t seem likely. 

“I think we have to be realistic that there’s just not much appetite in our state or in our country for things that are going to shut people up at home,” Harris said. 

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Harris said on Thursday that the Alabama Department of Public Health is going to try to give the best information possible to local officials “and then they can do what they want with that information. Hopefully they’ll make good decisions.” 

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey hasn’t held a press conference in more than a month, when on May 21 she announced her decision to amend her “safer-at-home” order reopening more of the state’s businesses.

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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