Gov. Kay Ivey, in a new conference this morning, announced she is extending the statewide mask order through Aug. 31.

Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris updated where the state stands with COVID-19 numbers. Harris said there are almost 2,000 in-patient cases across the state. He said the current surge is similar to what occurred across the state after Memorial Day weekend and said the high number of cases now could be attributed in part to the July 4 weekend.

“These numbers are as high as we’ve ever seen,” Harris said.

Ivey acknowledged “no one enjoys wearing a mask,” herself included, but “I believe we’re making progress.”

She said as schools prepare to open, masks will be required for students beginning in second grade through to college level, saying it is “imperative” students return to in-person classroom instruction not only for learning but because many students rely on schools as a "safe place where they are loved and encouraged as well as taught."

“We don’t’ have the luxury of not getting our children back in school,” she said.

Ivey said she worries that students’ continued absence from the classroom will result in a “dramatic negative” impact on the state’s future.

“Tough decisions are a lot easier to make when you’re on the sidelines than when you’re in the arena,” Ivey said.

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