Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Alabama's Republican Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide mask mandate on Wednesday as coronavirus cases continued to soar across the South, saying at a press conference: "We're pleading with the people of Alabama to wear a mask."

Why it matters: Alabama has reported more than 56,000 coronavirus cases and over 1,100 deaths, with more than 2,000 new infections reported on Tuesday. Approximately 30 Alabama hospitals have limited or no ICU beds available, and only about 12% of ICU beds are available statewide, according to state health officer Scott Harris.

The big picture: Many Republican governors have been reticent to issue statewide mask mandates, but the tide has begun to turn as infections have surged across the Sunbelt and hospital systems begin to reach capacity.

  • CDC director Robert Redfield said Tuesday that if everyone in the U.S. wore a mask in public, the coronavirus could be "under control" within four to eight weeks.
  • At least 25 states have now ordered residents to wear face masks in public.

What they're saying: "I still believe this is going to be a difficult order to enforce and I always prefer personal responsibility over a government mandate," Ivey said. "And yet I also know with all my heart that the numbers and the data over the past few weeks are definitely trending in the wrong direction."

Go deeper: The states where face coverings are mandatory

Go deeper

Updated 8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 18,982,658 — Total deaths: 712,266— Total recoveries — 11,477,642Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 4,873,747 — Total deaths: 159,931 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi rips GOP over stimulus negotiations: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn" — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive.
  4. Public health: Majority of Americans say states reopened too quicklyFauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread.
  5. Business: The health care sector imploded in Q2More farmers are declaring bankruptcyJuly's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery.
  6. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.
Updated 18 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios VisualsThe

The Philippines' economy sunk into recession as its gross domestic product shrank 16.5% in the second quarter — marking the lowest reading since 1981, official figures show.

The big picture: Millions of Filipinos went on lockdown Tuesday as cases surged past 106,300, with stay-at-home orders in place for two weeks in Manila and nearby provinces on the island of Luzon, per the BBC. The economy's contraction is the "deepest" on record, Bloomberg notes.

Coronavirus hotspots begin to improve

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Danielle Alberti, Sara Wise/Axios

Coronavirus infections are falling or holding steady in most of the country, including the hard-hit hotspots of Arizona, California and Florida.

The big picture: A decline in new infections is always good news, but don't be fooled: the U.S. still has a very long way to go to recover from this summer's surge.