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Gov. extends state mask order until October

Gov. Kay Ivey today extended the state’s safer-at-home order, which includes the mask mandate, through Oct. 2.

The order was set to expire next Monday. The governor announced the extension at a news conference Thursday morning in Montgomery.

Ivey issued the original mask order in mid-July, then extended it through the end of August. Since then, the state has seen a drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations, the rate of new cases and other metrics. In the week before the mask order, the state’s 7-day coronavirus new case average was 1,652; over the last week it is 759.

During her news conference, Ivey acknowledged that masks, while unpopular, have helped in the fight against the virus.

“Folks, I understand you don’t want to wear the mask; I don’t either,” Ivey said. “My glasses fog up, I can’t understand what people are saying because of the muffle effect that the masks have on conversations. I wish we didn’t have to wear masks, but we are seeing significant drops in our hospitalizations and daily positive COVID-19 numbers, and I have no doubt that this is a result of our mask ordinance.”

The order requires masks in public places when interacting with people from other households (with exceptions), masks in schools and colleges for students and employees, from the second grade up. Ivey thanked school teachers and administrators for their work in classroom adopting coronavirus procedures, and cautioned those attending sporting events to remain vigilant in social distancing.

The larger safer-at-home order also retains existing provisions such as retail stores remaining open at 50 percent occupancy, and restrictions on restaurants and bars, athletic facilities and close-contact service providers, such as hair and nail salons.

“Ultimately, it’s up to each individual to do our part. If not for ourselves, do it for your family and friends. We all want to get back to normal, and the way to do that means wearing a mask,” Ivey said.

Ivey said she has been tested for the virus, and the results were negative. She did not say if she had been tested more than once, or when this occurred.

In Covington County, the total number of confirmed cases reached 805 yesterday, with 74 new cases in the last 14 days and 22 deaths.

Covington County was also recently categorized as a county that is a low risk for spreading COVID-19.