On Tuesday, Gov. Kay Ivey missed an opportunity to implement requirements that health officials say could save lives and possibly slow the rate of coronavirus infection in the state. Instead, she spent a good bit of time telling residents that it was important to social distance and wear a mask in public before extending a toothless “safer-at-home” suggestion until July 31.

Issuing a mandatory mask order would be difficult to enforce, she said. However, she apparently hasn’t considered the psychological effect an order might have. Many people will follow an authoritative mandate without considering the likelihood of repercussions from defying it.

It’s a disappointing failure of leadership that suggests state officials hope the trajectory of infection will reverse itself under the same mandate under which it has climbed alarmingly since Memorial Day. It makes no sense to continue to do the same thing and expect different results. In fact, some suggest that defines insanity.

On a somewhat more positive note, the dark cloud that 6.1% of the state’s workforce has seen building above July 31 now has a ray of light shining through. That’s the percentage of Alabama workers who are unemployed and face the cessation of unemployment benefits at the end of the month. For idled workers, another 13-week program for state unemployment will take effect, providing benefits for another quarter. The federal benefits will not apply unless Congress passes another relief measure.

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