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Montgomery may consider face mask requirement

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Montgomery might become the latest Alabama city to require the wearing of face masks in public as the city deals with rising COVID-19 cases.

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed said Friday that the proposal may be brought to the city council as soon as Tuesday. Birmingham currently has an ordinance requiring face masks in public. The Birmingham City Council on Friday voted to extend the face mask ordinance through June 12.

“I don’t go from encouragement to enforcement very easily,” Reed said. “However, right now we have not seen the behavior that we need to see, nor have we seen the data showing us that the encouragement approach is working.”

Montgomery has become an emerging hotspot for coronavirus. State Health Officer Scott Harris said this week there is evidence of community spread instead of cases being linked to a singular location, like a nursing home, or an event.

As of Saturday, Alabama had more than 17,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 60 deaths. Montgomery County has had more than 1,500 of the cases and 38 deaths.

Reed announced last week announced that intensive care units in the city’s hospitals were filled or nearly filled. While he said hospitals still can care for patients, he said it should be considered a warning sign of the virus’s spread and urged people to be vigilant.

“We are still in a crisis. We are still in a battle we are fighting very courageously,” Reed said.

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