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Governor extends mask order through Oct. 2

Gov. Kay Ivey held an Coronavirus update Press conference Wednesday, July 29, 2020 in Montgomery, Ala. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday extended her “safer-at-home” order another five weeks to Oct. 2. This includes the mandate that everyone socially distance and wear masks whenever they are around people not from their immediate household.

“Today with the support of Dr. Harris I am extending the Safer at Home order,” Ivey said during a press conference at the Alabama State Capital. Ivey was joined by State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

The governor admitted that for her wearing the mask is uncomfortable, her glass fog up and wearing the masks makes it hard for her to hear what people say due to the muffling effect of speaking through a mask, but that “it is the right thing to do.” Ivey said she had been tested for the virus and her results were negative.

A reporter asked the governor how much pushback she has received on the statewide mask order.

“I really haven’t got a lot of pushback,” Ivey replied.

Ivey said that the mask order and the six feet of social distancing rule will apply to high school and college football games.

The state health officer said that given what happened after the Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July that he had “great trepidation” about the approaching Labor Day weekend. The governor credited the mask order with decreasing numbers of coronavirus cases and declining COVID-19 hospitalizations.

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A reporter asked the governor about Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox’s decision to close bars for two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus and if the governor might do something similar.

“I do not want to close businesses,” Ivey replied. “People need a livelihood.”

The governor, however, praised what Maddox and the University of Alabama have done to fight the spread of the virus and encouraged other officials to make similar decisions. More than 40 Tuscaloosa bars remain closed.

Citizens across the state are urged to socially distance, stay six feet away from people not from their household, wash hands frequently and avoid large social gatherings. Limits on restaurant, store and workplace capacities remain in effect for the next five weeks.

Harris said that the state has had almost 120,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 2,000 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths.

Ivey also announced that she was sending four National Guard Blackhawk helicopters to Louisiana and Texas to help with search and rescue efforts in the wake of the landfall of Hurricane Laura. The governor also authorized the Alabama National Guard to send up to 350 military police to Wisconsin to deal with rioting and unrest there following a police shooting.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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