By Faye Gaston

Hospitals urged Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to extend the statewide mandatory face masks-wearing order as Alabama continues to see higher numbers of COVID-19 cases.

On July 28, 2020, Dr. Don Williamson, head of the Alabama Hospital Association, said COVID-19 patients tend to stay in the hospital for a long time, 90% of the state's intensive care beds were full, the highest number since the pandemic began.

Hospitals support an extension because "if we do away with the mask order, more people get infected."

Governor Ivey, with Dr. Scott Harris (State Health Officer), provided an update on Alabama's COVID-19 efforts in a joint press conference on July 29, 2020.

The "Safer-at-Home" order and the statewide mandatory mask-wearing ordinance was extended from July 31, 2020, through August 31, 2020.

Individuals are still encouraged to stay at home and follow good sanitation practices.

The order says, "Masks required in public when interacting within six feet with people of another household, subject to certain exceptions."

She said, "Today, with the support of Dr. Harris, I am extending our current Safer-at-Home order until the end of August with a few minor modifications.

While a majority of the Safer-at-Home order will remain the same, there's one addition to this order that will impact those schools providing in-class instruction.

They'll now be required to wear masks whenever practical from second grade to college. We must remain vigilant if we're going to get our kids back in school and keep our economy open.

Wearing a mask can't hurt but can only help. It's a way to protect yourself as well as others you work with, care about and even love."

The order includes wearing masks mandatory by school employees.

Governor Ivey said, "While no one likes having to wear a mask, I believe we are making progress in this area. Alabamians, I thank you for your understanding, for your patience, for your support, and for your willingness to help us through these difficult days. We're in this together."

A lawsuit was filed in July against Governor Ivey, State Health Officer Dr, Scott Harris and the State Board of Health that contends that the mask order was illegally adopted and that plaintiffs face deprivation of liberty anytime they interact with others.

Lawyers for the state responded, "Governor Ivey has statutory authority under the provisions of the (Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955) to require the public to wear masks under certain circumstances to present the spread of COVID-19."

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