Shoals officials react to Gov. Kay Ivey's extended mask mandate

The statewide mask mandate will end April 9.

Posted: Mar 4, 2021 4:54 PM

On Thursday, Shoals officials reacted to Gov. Kay Ivey extending the mask order but promising it will end April 9.

For Tuscumbia Mayor Kerry Underwood, he said this was positive news to hear. He said to be completely transparent, he doesn't like wearing his mask because he feels it's hard to connect with people, but said he wears it to protect others.

"It's been a chore for me, but we've done it out of respect for the people we serve and the people we're around and to say we're now safe again outside of that is exciting for me and I will be happy to take the mask off, but not until April the 9th," said Underwood.

Underwood said prior to the shutdown and mask mandate, many businesses in Tuscumbia and the Shoals area did their own restrictions to help slow the spread. He said the governor's announcement on Thursday gives businesses some power back.

"We have 30 days for businesses and people to adjust to the fact of 'it's my decision how I run my business. If people wear masks or not, it's my decision how to do that.' It gives them time to finish that up, and after that, I think we begin quicker down the path of normalcy to where we were before," said Underwood.

Helen Keller Hospital President Kyle Buchanan said they're glad Ivey didn't lift the mask mandate but do have some concerns after April 9.

"That concern extends from the energy to move away from masking, the new variants that are being widely discussed throughout the country. All of those pieces pulled together do give us some concern again. That's one of the reasons we will continue requiring a mask within our hospitals for the foreseeable future. We don't want to go back to where we were just a month or two ago," said Buchanan.

As a part of Ivey's new Safer at Home Order, hospitals will also allow more than one person in at a time to be with a family member that's hospitalized for other medical reasons than COVID. Now, Helen Keller Hospital will allow two visitors at a time.

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