The push for a statewide mask order in Alabama

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Alabama Hospital Association said they support the idea of statewide face mask order.

Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, said there has been a decline in general hospital beds available across the state and a face mask order could help.

Williamson said there has been a dramatic increase in hospitalizations, saying that before Memorial Day, Alabama was seeing about 500 people in the hospital every day. Last week, before the Fourth of July, the state was averaging just under 800 people in hospital. Now, it’s over a 1,000 people in the hospital. Williamson said that doesn’t include the Fourth of July numbers, which will come out in a week or so.

“My worry is if we don’t get a handle of this before end of July, come August and kids going back to school, we are set up for massive increase in transmission and a much worsening situation in terms of number of people infected and in terms of the number of people in hospital,” Williamson said.

Williamson said his big concern is Alabamians are going to pay a bigger price moving forward, which is why the Alabama Hospital Association is in communication with Gov. Kay Ivey’s office about a statewide face mask order.

“It’s not about writing tickets. It’s certainly not about locking people up. It’s about empowering businesses to tell customers when they come in without a mask that the state requires you to wear a mask, please put on a mask. Will everyone follow that instruction? No, but a few people who otherwise wouldn’t wear a mask will because most of us want to follow the rules and if it saves one life, it’s worth it,” he said.

Ivey’s office issued the following statement to CBS 42 regarding a face mask order.

“Our largest cities have enacted mask policies, and that’s a good thing. Each area is unique and is working with their own set of data specific to their town or city, which is why the governor supports the decisions of local governments or businesses to require masks to be worn.”

Alabama House Minority Leader Rep. Anthony Daniels said he would support a statewide face mask order, but that it is not the only thing the state should focus on.

“I think having these ordinances put in place encouraging of wearing a face mask at the local level lends more credibility to movement on wearing a face mask, but I do think we should not just shift our conversation to just face mask but reinforce and reemphasize the need for hand sanitizing hands and those type of things and continue to social distance,” Daniels said.

Daniels said his only concern would be on the actual enforcement side of a mask order and it being abused.

Williamson said if hospitalization numbers don’t go down, Alabama might have to see businesses close again.

“To me, that is the consequence of a failed adherence to mask. I would like to gives us the opportunity with a statewide mask order to see if we can avoid rolling back. They’re rolling back in Texas, rolling back in Florida, because their hospitals are overwhelmed. We are not there yet, but we have a window. I think it’s about a two week window and I would hope we would be able to avoid that,” he said.

Governor Ivey’s office issued this statement to CBS 42 in terms of rolling back:

“As Governor Ivey has said time and again, closing the doors of businesses across the state is not a sustainable way of life. She says that you cannot have a life without a strong livelihood. Many businesses across Alabama are doing their part by ensuring the safety of their customers and employees, and the governor asks that they can continue doing that as we look ahead to a continued safe reopening of our economy. Unless we can definitely say that bars, for example, are the reason for increased numbers, she has no intention of picking winners and losers just because it is what other states are doing”


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