Infectious disease experts say lifting mask mandates now is a ‘horrible idea’

Infectious disease experts say lifting mask mandates now is a ‘horrible idea’
Alabama’s mask order will expire on Friday at 5 p.m., unless Gov. Kay Ivey intervenes. Leaders in Texas and Mississippi have announced they are lifting mask mandates in their states. And health experts here are concerned about what that could mean for the pandemic. (Source: WBRC)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama’s mask order will expire on Friday at 5 p.m., unless Gov. Kay Ivey intervenes.

Leaders in Texas and Mississippi have announced they are lifting mask mandates in their states. And health experts here are concerned about what that could mean for the pandemic.

Gov. Ivey’s press secretary said Governor Ivey has made it clear that she prefers personal responsibility to government mandates. She said Ivey is optimistic that our state is heading in the right direction, and we still have some work to be done.

The CDC is warning against lifting mask mandates, and doctors here agree, saying the fight against COVID-19 isn’t over just yet.

On Tuesday, the governors of Texas and Mississippi announced mask orders in their states would be lifted along with many of their COVID-19 health mandates, a move UAB’s Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Michael Saag, said is misguided.

“I think it’s a horrible idea. I don’t see any science that supports the elimination of masks at this point in time,” Dr. Saag said.

He said the number of COVID-19 cases is coming down, but it’s still high. He’s concerned that relaxing restrictions now could lead to another surge.

“What I am concerned about is that we are living next door to Mississippi. Texas is the second largest state in the country. Cases will come out of there, so we need to double down on our protection and take care of ourselves, at least until people in our state get vaccinated,” Dr. Saag explained.

He anticipates that won’t be fully implemented until mid-summer. Until then, he recommends we all continue to mask up.

“If we’re a wide receiver, just caught a long pass and we’re heading for the end zone, we’re on the 20-yard line; are we just gonna stop on the 20 and say, ‘Okay, we’re done.’ No. We’re going to finish the play and take it to the end zone. That’s what we need to do,” Dr. Saag said.

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