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Birmingham: City leaders likely will extend a mandate requiring face masks in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus despite the governor’s plan to end the statewide rule next month, said City Council President William Parker. While Gov. Kay Ivey has said the state order will expire April 9, Parker said officials in Birmingham have been in discussions with medical experts and will push to keep a requirement in place for face masks in public places. “I feel very confident that there will be a mask ordinance for the city of Birmingham,” he said Saturday at the opening of a new vaccination site. A City Council vote likely will be held April 6, he said. Jefferson County is among multiple counties the Alabama Department of Public Health rates as having a high infection rate over the past two weeks even as cases and hospitalizations decline overall in the state during a surge in vaccinations. More than 10,320 people in Alabama have died of COVID-19, and more than 503,000 have tested positive for the virus. About 400 people are hospitalized with the illness statewide, though that is the fewest since April and down from a peak of more than 3,000 in January.

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