Gov. Kay Ivey is extending the state's safer-at-home order through 5 p.m. July 31.
Ivey announced the decision during a press conference at the state Capitol Tuesday. The previous order was set to expire 5 p.m. July 3.
“In just a couple of weeks it will mark a four-month period our state has responded to COVID-19,” Ivey said. “I am aware of the pain that it has caused people in our state. Our citizens have been hurting in many ways.”
Wearing masks while in public is still recommended but not mandatory. Ivey said she could make wearing them in public mandatory, but such an order would be “next to impossible to enforce.”
“When in public, for goodness sake, wear a mask,” she said. “It is everyone's responsibility … and takes us all being vigilant in order to stop the spread of this deadly disease.”
Ivey said more than 33,000 Alabamians have contracted the novel coronavirus, and more than 800 of those cases have proved fatal.
The hope has been that COVID-19 cases would slow down as Alabama hit the warmer summer months, but the number of positive cases has surged.
State health officer Dr. Scott Harris said there have been 10,000 confirmed cases in the state in just the past 14 days.
“We are testing more than we ever have, but the percentage of positive cases is as high as it has ever been,” he said. “That means there is increased transmission going on.”
Harris said there are more than 750 coronavirus inpatients in hospitals around the state right now, and 300 more people awaiting test results. He said there are 275 intensive care unit beds still available at hospitals statewide.
Harris said people over the age of 65 make up three-fourths of the number of Alabamians who have died due to COVID-19, but only 17% of cases have involved seniors.
“That means that seniors who become infected have a 1-in-9 chance of not surviving,” he said. “That's a tragedy. Please continue to take this seriously.”
Ivey said creating a shutdown that went on for months was never her intent. She said many businesses across the state are hurting because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, social distancing guidelines, such as maintaining 6 feet of separation between people in public, will remain in effect.
“We cannot sustain a delayed way of life,” she said.
Ivey said there are many viruses we already live with in our daily lives, and we have learned to work around them.
“We should expect to live with (COVID-19) as long as it takes for cases to go down,” she said.
“Please do your best to take care of each other,” Harris said.