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US Breaking with other GOP, Alabama governor extends mask order

01:05  08 march  2021
01:05  08 march  2021 Source:   abcnews.go.com

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Alabama's governor said Thursday she is extending the state's mask mandate until April 9.

"After April the 9th I will not keep the mask order in effect," Gov. Kay Ivey said at a news conference.

"We've kept the mask mandate in place for more than a generous period of time because it's helped," she said. "We've seen dramatic results and real progress being made."

a person talking on a cell phone: Health care worker Tonya Wilkes adjusts her mask while working at a Lowndes County coronavirus testing site in Hayneville, Ala., May 27, 2020. © Jay Reeves/AP Health care worker Tonya Wilkes adjusts her mask while working at a Lowndes County coronavirus testing site in Hayneville, Ala., May 27, 2020.

This week the state reached its lowest average for daily new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations since June, she said.

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"Even with this positive news ... we need to get past Easter and hopefully allow more Alabamians to get their first shot" of the vaccine before removing the mask order, Ivey said.

a group of people on a stage: Patrons stand on the Bear Trap's rooftop bar on The Strip, the University of Alabama's bar scene, Aug. 15, 2020, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. © Vasha Hunt/AP Patrons stand on the Bear Trap's rooftop bar on The Strip, the University of Alabama's bar scene, Aug. 15, 2020, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

"If businesses believe wearing masks are important to keeping their doors open & their employees and customers safe -- and many do -- then they’ll have five weeks from today to get ready to impose their own policies," Ivey tweeted.

Ivey also announced the easing of several restrictions: seating limits at restaurants will be loosened; outdoor programs will be allowed at senior centers with safety guidelines; two visitors, instead of one, will be allowed at hospitals and nursing homes; and summer camps can resume.

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a young girl talking on a cell phone © Jay Reeves/AP MORE: Snapshots of some of the lives lost to COVID-19 in the US

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth had urged for a lift of the statewide mask mandate, tweeting Wednesday, "I urge Gov. Kay Ivey to immediately lift the statewide mask mandate and allow citizens and local officials the liberty to make the decisions that best fit their circumstances."

The governor said a mask mandate "has been the right thing to do" but she respects those who believe "that was a step too far in government overreach."

Ivey's announcement comes days after Texas and Mississippi announced the end of mask mandates.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday the state's mask mandate would end March 10 and all businesses can reopen at full capacity.

a group of people standing in a kitchen: Customers wear masks in a pawn shop that does not require people to wear a face mask in Leander, Texas on March 3, 2021. © Ilana Panich-Linsman/The New York Times via Redux Pictures Customers wear masks in a pawn shop that does not require people to wear a face mask in Leander, Texas on March 3, 2021.

"It is now time to open Texas 100%," Abbott said. "COVID has not suddenly disappeared ... but it is clear from the recoveries, from the vaccinations, from the reduced hospitalizations, and from the safe practices that Texas are using, that state mandates are no longer needed."

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  Study shows link between mask mandates, reduced COVID-19 spread A CDC study found that mask mandates were linked to a decrease in COVID-19 cases and deaths, and allowing dining at restaurants was linked to an increase in both. Your browser does not support this video The findings come as some states, including Texas and Mississippi, have recently made moves to lift their mask mandates and other restrictions, like dining capacity. The CDC report, published Friday, examined the association of state mask mandates and orders allowing restaurants to reopen with COVID-19 cases and deaths. Researchers found that, from March 1 to Dec. 31, mask mandates were associated with a 0.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves also announced Tuesday that county mask mandates would be lifted and businesses can "operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules."

MORE: Swift backlash after Texas governor drops COVID restrictions

"Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed," Reeves tweeted. "It is time!"

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday called Abbott's decision "ill-advised."

a group of people sitting at a table: Maskless people gather outside a shop on March 3, 2021, in Dallas. Texas is lifting its mask mandate, Gov. Greg Abbott said, making it the largest state to no longer require one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus. © Lm Otero/AP Maskless people gather outside a shop on March 3, 2021, in Dallas. Texas is lifting its mask mandate, Gov. Greg Abbott said, making it the largest state to no longer require one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"It is really quite risky," Fauci said in a livestream with United Food and Commercial Workers International Union President Marc Perrone.

"If you look at the amount of infection that is in the community right now, even though the slope is coming down sharply, if you look at the last seven day average, it’s plateaued," Fauci said. "That’s a dangerous sign because when that has happened in the past, when you pull back on measures of public health, invariably you’ve seen a surge back up."

MORE: Texas, Mississippi to end mask mandates, allow businesses to reopen at full capacity

President Joe Biden on Wednesday called Abbott's decision "Neanderthal thinking."

"I hope everybody has realized by now these masks make a difference," Biden told reporters in the Oval Office.

"And the last thing, the last thing, the last thing we need is the Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything’s fine, take off your mask," Biden said. "It’s critical, critical, critical, critical that they follow the science."

ABC News' Erin Schumaker contributed to this report.

Texas Official Sees No Reason for State Removing Mask Mandate to Claim 'Premature Victory' .
"There's no reason why to open ourselves up to unnecessary death, unnecessary hospitalization, just for the sake of wanting to claim a premature victory," Judge Lina Hidalgo said."There's no reason why to open ourselves up to unnecessary death, unnecessary hospitalization, just for the sake of wanting to claim a premature victory," Hidalgo told host Lisa Desjardins on the PBS NewsHour.

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