MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — In the face of climbing virus numbers, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday extended a state health order that limits the number of people in restaurants and stores but didn’t follow other states that have issued new restrictions as the pandemic worsens.
Ivey announced she was extending the state’s “safer at home order” that, among other things, limits occupancy in stores and restaurants and requires safety measures at salons. The Republican governor extended the order, which had been set to expire Friday, through the end of July.
In a press conference at the Alabama Capitol, Ivey said she believed a statewide mask order would be unenforceable and was hesitant to issue new closure orders, saying “you can’t have a life without a livelihood,” but pleaded with people to voluntarily wear masks and take other precautions.
“Let me urge you, in the strongest manner I can, to incorporate COVID-19 precautions into your daily routine,” Ivey said.
State health officials have expressed alarm over the state’s recent virus numbers
As of Tuesday, Alabama had more than 37,000 cases of the new coronavirus, and more than 25% of infections in the last two weeks.
State Health Officer Scott Harris said the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive is at its highest point, at just under 11%.
“That means we know we have increasing transmission going on in the community,” Harris.
He said hospitalizations are also at its highest point, with 750 COVID-19 patients in hospitals and 275 intensive care beds available statewide. Ivey said she reserved the right to reverse course if needed to prevent state hospitals begin getting overwhelmed.
Other states have ordered new restrictions.
Arizona’s Republican governor shut down bars, movie theaters, gyms and water parks and leaders in several stateshave ordered residents to wear masks in public in a dramatic course reversal amid an alarming resurgence of coronavirus cases nationwide.
Ivey said she thought a statewide mask order would be “next to impossible” to enforce.
“You shouldn’t have to order somebody to do what is just in your own best interest and that of your family, friends and neighbors,” Ivey said.
Rep. Dexter Grimsley, who lost his sister Lorianne Grimsley Shakespear to COVID-19, spoke at the news conference and urged people to take it seriously.
“If she was alive today, that’s exactly what she would be telling me each me and every day, protect yourself and protect others.” Grimsley said.