Alabamians will have to continue wearing masks for a while longer, according to Gov. Kay Ivey.
This morning Ivey issued her 17th supplemental emergency proclamation containing an amended safer-at-home order that includes a statewide mask requirement. Individuals will be required to wear a mask or other facial covering when in public and in close contact with other people, as described in the order.
This amended order extends until 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2.
"I understand you don't wanna wear the mask; I don't either," Ivey said in a press conference Thursday morning. "My glasses fog up; I can't understand what people are saying because of the muffled effect masks have on conversations. I wish we didn't have to wear masks but we have seen 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.
"Wearing a mask is simply the right thing to do. When you wear a mask, you are protecting the people in your office, church, school, and your vulnerable family and friends."
Ivey said she appreciates the efforts being made in schools but gatherings at football games have concerned her.
"I appreciate the efforts of our teachers and administrators who are going to great lengths to keep our students safe," Ivey said. "It's not easy to add another task to add increased sanitation and social distancing measures on top of teachers' daily tasks. However, we should not be deceived that being vigilant against COVID-19 during the day ends when the football game begins. We must wear our masks and stay 6 feet apart as much as possible when we are not with members of our household. Y'all, this includes high school football gams as well as college game when they kick off their season. We must remain committed to defeat this virus."
Ivey asks residents to continue following guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
"Ultimately it is up to each individual to do our part," Ivey said. "We all want to get back to normal and the way to do that means wearing a mask."
Ivey thanks residents for their understanding, patience and willingness to "help us get through these very difficult days." She said a lot of things have been hard this year and not gone as planned but there is a silver lining.
"Today we are seeing the positive results from the sacrifices we are making," Ivey said.
Ivey said strides have been made in the daily rise of COVID-19 cases in Alabama. State public health officer Dr. Scott Harris said the state is cautiously optimistic about COVID-19 numbers the state is seeing lately. Since the mask mandate went into effect, Harris said numbers have gone down across the board, including hospitalizations which are lower than they were before the July 4 holiday.
"All (numbers) are indicating we have less transmission going on in the community," Harris said.
Harris said the mask mandate is to thank for the improvement in COVID-19 numbers. Harris also asks Alabamians to please wear masks correctly, over their mouths and noses.
Harris said high school sports continue to be in the conversation but he is hopeful schools continue to obey guidance from the state and Alabama High School Athletic Association.
Harris said there is some trepidation with the upcoming Labor Day holiday due to previous numbers after holidays. He asks Alabamians to please be mindful when mixing with other families and members of other households and continuing to social distance, wash hands and wear masks in those situations.
"(Labor Day weekend) has the opportunity to cause a lot of spread if people aren't careful, so we really want people to pay attention and do the right thing," Harris said.
Harris also said flu season is approaching and flu shots are important to keep as many people protected as possible.
Ivey closed the conference reminding Alabamians a lot of progress has been made in the COVID-19 pandemic and it's no time to stall that now.