By Samuetta Hill Drew
On April 9, the State of Alabama transitioned from an amended Safer at Home order to a new Safer Apart order issued by Governor Kay Ivey. This new Safer Apart order eliminated the state’s mask mandate which became effective at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 9. This new order, Safer Apart, will be effective until 5 p.m. May 5. This is the third phase of the state’s COVID-19 pandemic health orders.
Ivey’s order, which lifts the state’s mask mandate, comes on the heels of two other Republican governors in Texas and Mississippi announcing similar decisions. Ivey urges the public to continue wearing masks and social distancing in public due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. President Joe Biden and top U.S. health officials have criticized the decision, however, calling it a “big mistake.”
Ivey cited the decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations as her rationale for transitioning into the new order which lifted the state’s mask mandate, saying earlier this month, “the seven-day average for newly-reported COVID-19 cases was 328 per day, that’s a 92 percent drop from the high reached on January 10 and the lowest such average since the spring of 2020.” She stated, “the state was moving in the right direction,” and the extended order will provide additional time to give residents their first dose of a vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded these current COVID-19 numbers for the State of Alabama: 2,908,059 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Alabama; 1,295,623 people have received one or more vaccine doses; 787,557 people have completed their vaccine series; 3,098,025 vaccine doses have been delivered to the state; 2,453,715 vaccine doses were delivered to Alabama providers and 644,310 vaccine doses have been delivered to Federal Programs. Alabama continues to be ranked at the bottom regarding the number of vaccines given to its residents.
The Safer at Home order has other features beside the expiration of most statewide mask order. It allows senior citizen centers to resume activities outside and hospitals and nursing homes to welcome an additional visitor at a time. This limits them to a maximum of two visitors per patient.
The new order still requires anyone testing positive for COVID-19 to quarantine at home and allows restaurants, retail and other businesses open to the public to determine their own mask policy and guidelines. Houses of worships are free to make those masks guidelines, as well. The governor has produced signs that businesses can print and use at their entrances relative to their particular mask guidelines.
Biden told reporters last week, “We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms… The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking, that, in the meantime, everything’s fine. Take off your mask. Forget it.” In helping to Keep an Eye on Safety for you, your family, other loved ones, and the greater community, please read current COVID-19 information from medical and scientific experts in this field to make your decisions to mask or not. Your life and/or others may depend on it!