Dr. Birx Urges State to Extend Mask Mandate

The statewide mask mandate issued by Gov. Kay Ivey is set to expire Friday.

Not so fast, if White House advisor Dr. Deborah Birx’s comments in Auburn this past week reached Montgomery.

During a Thursday visit to Auburn University, the doctor said Ivey’s mandate should be extended. 

“If you look at what happened within two weeks of the mask mandate,’’ Birx said, “you can see the dramatic decline in cases here in Alabama. We talked about the importance of keeping those mitigations strong through the fall to get through this fall together, to ensure that people are immunized for flu to really protect one another, keep the rates down, get the rates down even further.

“Alabama’s test positivity is really dropping, really improving, but we’ve got to do even more.’’

On her visit, Birx also denied television reports that she was “distressed’’ the direction the nation’s coronavirus task force was taking while she participated at an Auburn University roundtable.

A day earlier, local officials addressed the current state of the coronavirus at the week COVID-19 press briefing.

Crestwood Medical Center CEO Dr. Pam Hudson said Madison County’s move from a high to moderate risk of spreading the virus was because of increased testing, principally at schools and nursing homes.

Hudson said when positive tests are found the patients are mostly asymptomatic and that hospitalizations are declining. Local officials feared a spike in cases following the Labor Day weekend and students returning to classrooms but it hasn’t happened.

“The public health measures are working,” she said. “There is no other valid reason for these stable numbers.”

Hudson also urged citizens to get a flu shot.

Madison Mayor Paul Finley encouraged people to support local restaurants Tuesday in lieu of the annual Taste of Huntsville, which has been cancelled.

The Huntsville-Madison County Hospitality Association is calling for an all-day “Dine on 9/29” celebration this year. “Dine on 9/29” calls on residents to enjoy socially distanced indoor dining, patio dining, take out, or delivery from restaurants.

He said anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable dining in should take advantage of curbside service.

“We all want (the restaurants) there when we come out of this,” Finley said.

Madison County EMA Director Jeff Birdwell said the Alabama Department of Public Health is working on a plan to distribute a vaccine once one is ready. At that time, he added, local officials would meet for a second time to discuss the issue.