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Suit challenges state’s mask requirement

More than 600 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Pike County.

The county added seven cases overnight Sunday, bringing its total to 603 cases since tracking began in March, with seven total deaths.

As of Monday, the county’s 14-day positive rate is 15.06 percent, according to bamatracker.com.

The 10 a.m. Monday update from the Alabama Department of Public Health showed 1,178 new cases added overnight, bringing the state total to 79,129 with 1,446 confirmed COVID-19 deaths. Of those cases, 22,992 have been confirmed in the past 14 days.

The ADPH reported 1,505 current hospitalizations, with more than 9,155 since tracking began. More than 32,500 people are presumed recovered.

Also on Monday, lawyers for Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the legality of a statewide order to wear face coverings in public places to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Real estate agent Debbie Mathis and retired sheriff’s Deputies Larry Lewis and Barry Munza, all of Jackson County, filed the lawsuit last week in Montgomery against Ivey, State Health Officer Scott Harris and the State Board of Health.

The lawsuit contends the mask order was illegally adopted and that plaintiffs face deprivation of liberty anytime they interact with others.

“There is no statutory authority that can be construed to empower the governor to mandate the wearing of a mask under any circumstances,” a lawyer for the plaintiffs wrote in court filings.

Ivey on July 15 announce a requirement for face coverings to be worn by anyone older than 6 who’s in public and within 6 feet (2 meters) of someone who’s not a relative. The rule, which makes exceptions for people who have certain medical conditions, are exercising, or performing certain types of jobs.

The governor’s office asked the judge to dismiss the case.

“Governor Ivey has statutory authority under the provisions of the (Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955) to require the public to wear masks under certain circumstances to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” lawyers for the state wrote.

The rule is set to expire Friday and Ivey and Harris are expected to announce this week whether it and other health orders will be extended.

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.