The same week that all Alabamians age 16 and older became eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Kay Ivey announced the end of the state mask mandate.
The mandate, which has been in place since July, will end Friday at 5 p.m., Ivey confirmed in a press conference Wednesday morning.
“We know wearing masks is one of our greatest tools in battling the pandemic, along with social distancing and good hygiene,” she said. “I will continue to wear a mask when I’m around others. It’s just the right thing to do to practice personal responsibility.”
The announcement comes as the state continues to see a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. As of Monday, Ivey said, the seven-day average for cases was 342 per day, which is a 92-percent drop from the high on Jan. 10. The seven-day average for hospitalizations was 331, as of Monday. That represents an 89-percent drop since Jan. 10. Both numbers are the lowest since last spring, Ivey said.
“It’s definitely good news,” she said. “We’re definitely moving in the right direction.”
While confirming the end of the mask mandate, Ivey also moved the state into the “Safer Apart” health order, which “greatly slims down” restrictions. The new order does away with restrictions for non-work related gatherings.
Almost 30 percent of the state’s residents have received the coronavirus vaccine, Ivey said, and the state has, as of Monday, made everyone 16 or older eligible to receive it.
“While we haven’t yet whipped this virus,” she said. “Thank the good lord we’re in the home stretch.”
More than 10,500 Alabamians have been killed by COVID-19 in the past 13 months, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said. While it has been a “rough” 13 months, Harris said the state now has vaccines available in 700 different locations statewide.
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