COVID-19 cases are again on the rise in Alabama, with hospitalizations creeping higher and doctors’ offices reporting noticeable increases in COVID-positive patients. In response, the Alabama Department of Public Health tweeted last week that it’s “better to be safe than sorry,” and suggested normalizing masking to cut down on spread.
The tweet was not a suggestion for a mask mandate, but merely a reminder to the public that the thousands of people in Alabama who suffer from various medical conditions and other ailments – or those who simply wish to cut down on the spread of transmissible viruses – should feel comfortable to wear a mask.
The Alabama Governor’s Office apparently disagrees.
“A seafood restaurant would serve Rocky Mountain oysters before there was a mask mandate in the state of Alabama,” said Gina Maiola, the communications director for Gov. Kay Ivey. “Normalizing masking, COVID restrictions and the like are not anywhere in Governor Ivey’s vocabulary. Alabamians have common sense and can choose what is best for them.”
Of course, masking once was in Ivey’s vocabulary – she issued a mask mandate for the state in 2020-21 that lasted nine months. She also very openly encouraged masking and other mitigation efforts during those times – efforts that most health experts agree likely saved the lives of many Alabamians.
But the orders were also unpopular in Republican circles and Ivey is in the process of seeking re-election.