Alabama Republican governor Kay Ivey ends mask order

As vaccination rates improve and infection rates decline in regions across the country, the divergent fates of states that have relaxed strict coronavirus public health orders and those that have stubbornly kept them in place has been have been instructive and fascinating at once.

With COVID-19 hospitalizations, test positivity, and case numbers reaching record low in Alabama, on Wednesday, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey announced that she would allow a statewide mask mandate to expire on Friday, as scheduled, Fox News reported.

In place of the expiring order, Ivey stated that she would issue a “slimmed down” health order that emphasizes personal responsibility and voluntary mask usage rather than the mandates that have been in place nationwide for much of the past year.

Citing significant progress in terms of vaccination efforts, Ivey declared, “We are finally rounding the corner. While we haven’t whipped this deadly disease just yet, it appears that, thank the good Lord, we are in the home stretch. Please, please continue to use good common sense and we will see the end of COVID-19 soon,” Fox News noted.

Ivey indicated that the less-restrictive “Safer Apart” order that will be in effect until May 5 was made possible by “everyone doing their part to practice social distancing, wearing a mask, & voluntarily getting a vaccine,” and that she would continue to encourage residents to “do all of these things & make smart decisions.”

Indeed, Ivey’s decision to substantially ease up on restrictions in her state appears justified by the fact that as of Monday, Alabama’s 7-day average for new coronavirus cases hit its lowest point since spring of last year, according to Breitbart.

Alabama’s current status in the fight against COVID-19 stands in stark contrast to that of Michigan, where Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer notoriously imposed stringent lockdowns, mask mandates, and other restrictions early in the pandemic, many of which remain in place today.

Despite the onerous, economy-crushing edicts previously imposed by its leadership, this week, the Great Lakes State achieved the dubious distinction of tallying the highest number of new COVID cases in the entire nation over the preceding seven days, as Detroit NBC affiliate WDIV reported. In response, Whitmer on Friday issued a request for a two-week “pause” on youth sports activities, indoor dining, and in-person learning at the high school level, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The experiences of a states in which coronavirus restrictions were not so rigidly implemented seem to support the theory that for all of the personal and financial devastation they have caused, harsh lockdowns may have regrettably only served to kick the can of widespread community transmission down the road.