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New mask requirements for Jefferson County, Alabama

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By Samuetta Hill Drew


Only two states, Connecticut and Rhode Island, are reporting a decline in new coronavirus cases compared to the spiking numbers now being reported in southern and western states. Florida has seen its confirmed cases more than double in a week, from June 19 to Friday, June 26, 2020, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The ex-head, Dr. Thomas Frieden, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states the new spiking numbers being seen around the country are real and not an anomaly related to testing numbers. He further predicts the spreading of more cases and deaths. He says deaths are not yet spiking because deaths lag infections by one month. He predicts our nation will see 15,000 deaths in July next month.
He also said on Fox News that “This virus has the upper hand.” He feels the southern state’s cases are rising because of their hasty openings. The phrase many coined “open does not mean over” appears to be quite appropriate even for Alabama. These nationwide spiking daily numbers has prompted many cities and counties to mandate wearing a face covering when in public spaces. Some areas in Florida have established $500 fines for mask rule violations.
The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 964 new coronavirus cases in our state on Friday, June 26. It was the third highest daily number since the pandemic.
Jefferson County, where Birmingham is located, added the most new cases in Alabama on Friday. It reported 149 cases in a single day.
Because Jefferson County continues to see an increase of coronavirus cases, Dr. Mark Wilson, Jefferson County Health Officer has issued an order requiring face covering/mask to be worn when in public places in Jefferson County, Alabama. The order went into effect Monday, June 29 at 5 p.m. Wilson said, “This order shall remain in effect until I’ve determined that public health conditions in the county warrant discontinuation or change in the order.”
The order defines a face covering/mask as a device to cover the nose and mouth of a person to impede the spread of saliva or other fluids during speaking, coughing, sneezing or other intentional or involuntary action. Medical grade masks are not required and are, in fact, discouraged for us under the Order, because they are in short supply and should generally be reserved for high-risk first responders and health care workers or those coming into direct contact with suspected COVID-19 patients.
Coverings may be fashioned from scarves, bandanas, or other suitable fabrics. The face covering must cover the mouth and nose of the wearer.
Face covering are required by the Order at the following public spaces:
a. Indoor spaces of businesses or venues open to the general public, including but not limited to stores, bars and restaurants (see exception 3b) entertainment venues, public meeting spaces, government buildings, civic centers, etc.
b. Transportation services available to the general public, including mass transit, paratransit, taxi, or ride-sharing services.
c. Outdoor areas open to the general public where 10 or more persons are gathered and unable to maintain social distance of six (6) or more feet between persons not from the same household.
There are some exceptions to the order. One of these exceptions addresses children two years of age and under. Face coverings or masks may pose a risk of choking, strangulation, or suffocation to infants and young toddlers. Do not focus on them wearing cute masks matching their outfits. This is not about making a fashion statement, but safe health practices. Carriers and strollers with covers that allow the child to breathe comfortably are recommended as safe alternatives.
Other exceptions address eating or drinking, medical examination or procedures, hair care services and more.
To help Keep an Eye on Safety during this pandemic in Jefferson County I encourage everyone to go online to read the entire order for yourselves.