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Alabama governor extends mask order, breaking southern GOP trend

Kay Ivey
Posted at 12:44 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 09:36:25-05

Gov. Kay Ivey extended Alabama's mask order for another month on Thursday, but also announced the end of the mask mandate in April.

"As of Tuesday, Alabama has seen the lowest average for daily new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since June. Y’all, this is definitely an indication we’re moving in the right direction,"Ivey said.

This comes after Mississippi and Texas both announced lifting mask mandates and COVID-19 restrictions this week.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the statewide mask mandate would be lifted Wednesday. He issued a full Executive Order, Tuesday, March 2.

Abbott said any local order mandating masks would no longer be valid without a county judge ordering restrictions and that businesses would be able to return to full capacity on Wednesday, March 10.

"Texas is in a far better position now than when I issued my last executive order back in October," Abbott said. "It is their business, and they get to choose to operate their business the way they want to. At this time, however, people and businesses don't need the state telling them how to operate.

Businesses may still limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols as they please.

Abbott made his announcement in Lubbock where he addressed small businesses and community leaders of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. You can watch below.

"With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus,” Abbott said. "We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent.

"Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed. Today's announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others. With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny."

A press release from the governor's office says the state is giving nearly a million COVID-19 vaccine shots a week and that they have already administered 5.7 million vaccines so far. It also says that by March, every senior who wants a vaccine should have one available to them.

Mask mandates in Texas are not completely gone, as the Governor has made it an option for individual counties under certain circumstances.

"If COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas get above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, a County Judge in that region may use COVID-19 mitigation strategies," says a press release from the Governor. "However, County Judges may not impose jail time for not following COVID-19 orders nor may any penalties be imposed for failing to wear a face mask."

These restrictions, if implemented, may not include reducing capacity to less than 50% for any business.

Wednesday, President Joe Biden was critical of state's lifting mask mandates and pandemic restrictions.

"The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that, in the meantime, everything is fine, take off your mask," Biden said. “Forget it. It still matters.”