MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Two weeks after the Mobile City Council adopted a mandatory mask ordinance, novel coronavirus cases continue to spiral upward.

In the 14 days since the ordinance went into effect on July 3, Mobile County has averaged 129 new COVID-19 cases a day. That’s up from an average of 72 per day in the preceding 14 days.

Health care experts caution the daily case count lags far behind what is going on in the community because of the disease’s long incubation period and the delay in getting test results. Still, two weeks generally is enough time to begin seeing the impact of any factor influencing transmission.

But Mobile County epidemiologist Rendi Murphree told FOX10 News it is still a little too early to pass judgment on the policy.


“It’s also very, it’s hard to know if it’s a failure of the ordinance or failure of the people to comply with the ordinance,” she said. “Those are very two different things. We know in Mobile County, there has been mixed reaction to wearing a mask – the ordinance to wear a mask.”

Mobile County’s experience contrasts with Montgomery County. That county had overtaken Mobile and Jefferson counties to become the state’s leader in infections by June 17 when city of Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed issued an executive order requiring masks. In the 14 days following that, average daily cases numbered 63, down from an average of 78 in the previous 14 days. It declined again, to an average of 58 per day after the Montgomery City Council passed a mask ordinance on July 7.

Montgomery County has fallen back below Mobile and Jefferson in total cases.

Mobile City Council President Levon Manzie, who sponsored the mask ordinance, said he still has confidence in the ability of masks to dent infection rates.

“I think it is having an impact. I believe it is having an effect,” he said. “It’s going to continue to take more time.”

Manzie said he hopes Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s statewide mask requirement, which took effect Thursday, will have an even greater impact. Even before she acted, he said, he saw more people wearing masks in the community.

“I absolutely believe there has been more emphasis and more importance placed on wearing a face covering,” he said.

Councilman Fred Richardson, who voted for the ordinance, also said he believes Ivey’s order will boost compliance.

“We’re going to see a difference,” he told FOX 10 News. “It’s going to take some but it will make a difference.”

One key difference could be that the city of Montgomery makes up the vast majority of Montgomery County, while Mobile is less than half of its county. Murphree also noted that not all of the municipalities in Mobile County adopted mask ordinances when the city of Mobile did.

Murphree said she hopes the state order makes a difference.

“It will not work if the community is not adhering to those ordinances, so we need the community’s help to comply now that the statewide ordinance has gone into effect,” she said. “For the next two weeks, we need everyone to comply with that ordinance so that we can see if we can have any chance at slowing that outbreak.”

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


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