MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday extended Alabama’s Safer at Home Order, which was set to expire July 3, through July 31. No major changes were made to the order. As the number of cases of COVID-19 continue to increase in Alabama and several other states, some states and counties have made face coverings mandatory; however, Ivey did not make them mandatory for Alabama.
“In the last few weeks, the COVID-19 cases have continued to rise, and currently there are over 33,000 Alabamians who have contracted this disease to date. Over (900) have died,” said Ivey. “While we are not overwhelmed yet, we should not think that because our summer feels more normal than our spring that we are back to normal. The fact is, folks, we are still in the thick of this virus disease, and it is deadly. We are learning how to live with this disease and need to continue to do what we need to do to avoid another Stay at Home Order. That means to maintain 6-foot social distancing, to stay at home unless you just must get out to go to work or for a necessity, and when you’re in public, for goodness sake, wear a mask. You know, (State Health Officer) Dr. (Scott) Harris and I can order you to wear a mask, but it would be next to impossible to enforce. But you know, you shouldn’t have to order somebody to do what is just in your own best interest and that of the folks that you care about- your family, friends and neighbors.”
Ivey urged citizens to incorporate COVID-19 precautions into their daily routines and said if the state continues to head in the wrong direction and hospitals become overwhelmed, she reserves the right to reverse course.
Harris said the state has had more than 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the last 14 days, around 28% of the state’s cases occuring in the last two weeks.
“Even though we are testing more than we have ever tested, the percentage of tests that are positive in fact is going up and is now as high as it has been, just under 11%, where it’s been for the past couple of weeks,” said Harris, “so even though we’re testing more, we’re finding a greater percentage of people who are positive, and that means we know that we have increasing transmission going on in the community. Our hospitals today are actually reporting more confirmed COVID-19 inpatients than they have seen so far during the outbreak.”
He said there are more than 750 confirmed positive patients hospitalized now, with around 300 more hospitalized awaiting test results. He said there are around 275 ICU beds remaining statewide, as of Tuesday morning.
“I just want to use this opportunity just to plead with Alabamians to please continue to take this seriously,” said Harris. “I know so many of you have, and I’ve heard from so many people who are helpful and supportive, but we know that there are many people that have not yet gotten the message.”
He continued, “Our state has opened back up in many ways, but this is not the time to let our guard down. That’s particularly true for those folks who are senior citizens or those that have chronic health problems. This is still a Safer at Home Order that’s being enacted, and you are safer at home, particularly if you have a chronic health problem or you’re an older person. Please continue to stay home if you’re sick. Please continue to wash your hands. Please continue to use face coverings when you go out in public. The reason to do that is because you care about other people. We know that face coverings aren’t perfect and they don’t prevent everything, but we do know that they limit your chance of giving the infection to someone else if you have it. And as we know, many people who can spread the disease don’t even know that they’re infected. There are so many uncertain things going on in the world right now, but this is one thing we actually have power over. It’s in our power to stop this, each one of us with our own individual behaviors has the ability to prevent the spread of this disease, and I would just encourage you to continue doing that. We all know what we need to do, and we all can do that.”
Harris also announced the rollout of a statewide map that will show the COVID-19 alert level, color-coded, by county. He said the map will go live Tuesday. The alert levels will be based on the 14-day trends in each county.
Representative Dexter Grimsley, D-Abbeville and Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon also spoke at Tuesday morning’s press conference with Ivey and Harris. Grimsley lost a sister to COVID-19, and McLendon and his wife have recovered from it.