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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The head of the health department in Alabama’s largest metro area says COVID-19 is spreading so rapidly that public places should consider a return to requiring face masks.

The health officer for Jefferson County says studies have shown the delta variant that has taken hold in Alabama can spread between people in less than a minute.

He says that means any indoor area where people gather might need a face mask requirement or at least a strong recommendation that people wear them.

The problem isn’t isolated to Jefferson County: the vast majority of counties in Alabama are considered to be at high risk for the illness.