Birmingham will likely continue with its mask mandate due to COVID-19 constraints even after the state’s mandate expires on April 9, according to city leaders.
“I think it is important we continue to do the things that we have been doing since last year so we can truly, truly defeat this COVID-19 pandemic,” said City Council President William Parker, in an interview with the Birmingham Times.
Alabama is ending its mask mandate on April 9, despite pushes for ordinance extensions from the Biden administration.
“I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate,” Biden said on Sunday.
Governor Kay Ivey is uncompromising in her stance that after the mandate expires on April 9, mask wearing will be a matter of personal responsibility, she said in a press conference.
“We have made progress, and we are moving towards personal responsibility and common sense, not endless government mandates,” Ivey spokesperson Gina Maiola said in a statment March 29th.
Birmingham was one of the first cities to issue a mask ordinance after the COVID-19 public health emergency last March. The city’s ordinance required face coverings at all times by everyone over the age of two in public places.
Masks are important in controlling COVID-19 cases and deaths, according to Ellen Eaton, UAB’s infectious disease expert.
“One benefit of the mask mandate was that it helped all of us take the pandemic much more seriously as a community. There is a lot of data from the past year that shows places who instituted mask mandates got COVID under control more quickly and experienced fewer deaths,” Eaton said.
Gov. Kay Ivey said that she still expects everyone to exercise their personal responsibility by wearing masks and as a state that prides itself on hospitality, Alabamians can exercise their personal responsibility by continuing mask wearing to protect our neighbors and will allow Alabamians to experience a more normal Spring and Summer, Eaton said.
Only 14% Alabama residents are fully vaccinated as of April 1, according to The New York Times. Therefore, Mayor Randall Woodfin is planning to extend the mask mandate.
“We have a draft ordinance already on standby,” Woodfin said in a recent call with the Birmingham Association of Black Journalists.
COVID-19 cases in Alabama have decreased by 28% in the past 14 days and deaths have gone down by 50% during this time period, The New York Times reported on April 1.
“By wearing our masks to protect each other, we demonstrated very clearly that we are all in this together,” Eaton said. “And masks make a huge difference.”