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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."