MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WALA) -- Gov. Kay Ivey during a joint news conference Wednesday morning announced a statewide mask mandate as Alabama continues to grapple with alarming COVID-19 infection rates.

Ivey was joined in the announcement by State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

The order requires everyone in the state older than 6 to wear a mask in public areas while interacting within six feet of people from another household. This order goes into effect at 5 p.m. Thursday and will be in place until July 31.
 
Ivey said the order could be extended.
 
The governor said that while violating the mask mandate could bring a $500 fine and jail time, the goal is to inform people of the need to wear face coverings to protect against the virus spread and not to collect fines or to jail violators.
 
“We're pleading with the people of Alabama to wear a mask,” Ivey said.
 
The announcement was made a day after Alabama reported a pandemic-high of 40 deaths in a single day. Alabama set a record for new cases, too -- 2,141 reported on Tuesday.
 
The mask order has exceptions for people with certain medical conditions, and well as for exercising and for some work-related activities.
 
Across Alabama, more than 56,400 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic. The 40 deaths on Tuesday pushed the state's death total to 1,135.
 
As caseloads increase, 30 hospitals across the state are reporting limited or no ICU space, with only 12 percent of intensive care hospital beds available for new patients.
 
“We’re almost to the point where our hospital ICUs are overwhelmed," Ivey said during the news conference.
 
Some 16 to 17 percent of Alabama COVID-19 tests are positive, up from 14 percent the week before, showing "more disease is circulating," Ivey said.
 
There is a 2 percent fatality rate.
 
Dr. Deborah Birx, a key member of the Trump Administration’s Coronavirus Task Force, was set to meet with the Alabama governor Wednesday afternoon, as the state is being called a coronavirus "hotspot."
 
State School Superintendent Eric Mackey is expected to have a written plan regarding school reopening guidelines to Ivey on Friday. 
 
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“Safer at Home” Mask Requirement
Frequently Asked Questions

  1. When do I have to wear a mask?
    You have to wear a mask when you are in public and in close contact with other people. Specifically, the order says to wear a mask when you are within six feet of a person from another household in any of the following places: (a) an indoor space open to the public; (b) a vehicle operated by transportation service; and (c) an outdoor public space where ten or more people are gathered.

  2. Do young children have to wear a mask? What about people who are exercising? In other words, are there any exceptions to the mask-wearing requirement?
    There are five categories of exceptions. The largest category, exceptions for “practical necessity,” covers people or situations where mask use is incompatible with the realities of life — for example, children six or younger, people with certain medical conditions or disabilities, eating and drinking, medical and dental procedures, and so on. There are also categories of exceptions for exercise, for communicating with an audience, and for certain essential job functions. An additional category carves out narrow exceptions for protected activities like voting and religious worship — but even then, wearing a mask is strongly encouraged.

  3. What kind of face mask is required?
    The requirement allows all kinds of masks to be used—whether store-bought, homemade, or
    improvised from household items like scarves, bandanas, or t-shirts. The key is for the mask to cover your nostrils and mouth. For instructions on how to make your own mask, see the CDC’s “How to Make Cloth Face Coverings,” available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-make-cloth-face-covering.html.

  4. I live in a city or county that already has a local mask order. Am I supposed to follow my local order or this new statewide order?
    Follow this new statewide order. While this order is in effect, it will replace all local mask rules to provide a uniform, statewide rule.

  5. I am a business owner. What does this order mean for my business?
    The order requires businesses to take reasonable steps, where practicable, to encourage mask use by employees and customers. One example of a reasonable step might be to post signs encouraging customers and patrons to wear a mask. Although a business is not required to deny entry to people who are mask-less, they always retain the right to do so — and doing so would certainly be a reasonable step to encourage mask use.

  6. How long will the new mask requirement be in effect?
    The new mask requirement goes into effect Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 5 p.m. It is currently set to expire on July 31, 2020

Source: Alabama Department of Public Health 

All content © 2020, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.  

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