During the presidential debate Tuesday, President Donald Trump argued for opening up the economy and a loosening of coronavirus restrictions. His opponent, Vice President Joe Biden, has said that he favors stronger measures to bring the virus under control. Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth seized on the moment to support the president and added that Alabama’s mask mandate should not be extended.
“I agree with President Trump,” Ainsworth said. “Shutdowns don’t work. People want their schools open, their businesses operating, and their jobs protected. Masks should be voluntary, not mandatory. We have to Make America Great Again.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, with the support of Alabama State Health Office Dr. Scott Harris, imposed a statewide mask order on July 15 when the state’s coronavirus cases were peaking, hospitals were reaching a breaking point and COVID-19 deaths were soaring.
The governor has since extended that mandatory mask order. It is currently in place through Friday, Oct. 2,
The mask order is being credited by public health officials with improving the coronavirus situation in the state, allowing the state to open its universities and play both high school and college football seasons.
It is not known, at this point, whether Ivey will further extend the mask order.
White House Coronavirus Task Force Member Dr. Deborah Birx came to Alabama just last week and urged Ivey to extend the mask order. A number of epidemiologists and doctors in the state have come forward to echo that call to extend the mandate.
Ainsworth was one of the first public officials to call for an economic shutdown to combat the coronavirus. He was also one of the first public officials to call for reopening the economy after the governor actually did order an economic shutdown.
The Alabama Department of Public Health announced 16 more COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday to take the state’s total death toll to 2,517. Alabama currently has 86,854 active cases of the virus.
The state remains under a statewide “safer-at-home” order. Citizens who don’t have to leave their home are urged not to leave their homes and practice social distancing and wear a mask when they do have to go out.
At least 1,013,469 people worldwide have already died in the COVID-19 pandemic including 210,797 Americans.