Helen Keller Hospital CEO says face masks should still be worn after governor’s order expires


SHEFFIELD, Ala. — In August, Governor Kay Ivey announced she would be extending Alabama’s Safer-at-Home order including the mandatory mask mandate. That order is set to expire Friday, October 2.

“We are seeing significant drops in our hospitalizations and daily positive COVID-19 numbers and I have no doubt that this is a result of our mask ordinance,” Governor Ivey said during an August news conference.

Helen Keller Hospital CEO Kyle Buchanan agrees with the governor on the effectiveness of masks but said since her announcement in August there has been an increase in cases.

“We saw it slow down quite a bit in September and then pick back up here at the end of the month,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan said the increase comes after Labor Day weekend with cases at Helen Keller now in the double digits.

He also acknowledged that extending the order is a difficult decision for the governor, but regardless of her choice, things won’t change at Helen Keller.

“We are universally masking so every visitor, every patient, every staff member is required to wear a mask within our hospital and we don’t intend to change that at all,” Buchanan said.

And keeping that policy in place will also help with the upcoming flu season. “The same advice; we’ve been preaching masking and social distancing and hand hygiene since March of this year,” Buchanan said.

With a possible increase in demand, Buchanan wants to make sure the hospital has enough resources to care for the entire community.

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