MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Governor Kay Ivey extended Alabama's statewide mask order, as part of the state's Safer-at-home order, through November 8.
She extended the order until after the election in order to make voting safer for voters.
The state is also making changes to rules around long-term care facilities to help reunite families with their loved ones.
She clarified the rule about caregivers in health care settings and said that people can have one caregiver or visitor at a time unless there is a strong reason not to.
The new order language reads:
Effective October 2, 2020, all Hospitals and Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities (including Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities) shall ensure that each patient or resident may be accompanied by one caregiver at a time (in the case of hospitals) or receive visits from one visitor at a time (in the case of nursing homes and long term care facilities), subject to reasonable restrictions imposed on the entrance of persons because of the COVID-19 county positivity rate, the facility’s COVID-19 status, a patient’s or resident’s COVID-19 status, caregiver/visitor symptoms, lack of adherence to proper infection control practices, or other relevant factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic, consistent with the following guidance from the federal government.
State Health Officer Scott Harris said that the number of percentage of positive tests is trending down and only six counties out of 65 are in the "red zone" for number of cases and percentage positive cases.
Harris points to this as evidence that the mask mandate is working. He cited another state with a county-by-county mask order, and that in masked counties, numbers are trending down. In counties without a mask mandate, cases are not dropping.
Harris said that the state continues to work on plans to receive, store, and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.
Part of the plan is prioritizing who gets the vaccine, as it will be in limited supply at first. Those at highest risk for severe illness or exposure to COVID-19 will likely be a priority. Harris pledged transparency in how allocation and prioritizing care are handled.
Alabama is receiving about 1 million rapid COVID-19 tests, which Governor Ivey says will be distributed throughout the state primarily for K-12 students and areas at high-risk.
With regards to masks and the November 3 election, Governor Ivey urged people voting in person to wear a mask to protect poll workers and others are the polls, although a mask is not required to vote.
See the newest Safer-at-home order here: