Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey extended Alabama's mask mandate through March 5. 

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Jan. 21 that she was extended the statewide mask mandate through March 5.

The mask mandate was scheduled to expire on Jan. 22 but has been extended for an additional six weeks. Ivey cited huge spikes in COVID-19 cases – and hospitalizations – since Christmas as a primary reason for extending the mask mandate.

“Of the 1,600 ICU beds in Alabama, 1,561 were occupied last week,” Ivey said. “As of Wednesday, our seven-day average was 2,666 (new cases) per day, which is far below the spiking cases earlier this month but also way above the numbers recorded three or even two months ago.

“The mask mandate remains the one step that we can all take to find some balance in our daily lives and stay healthy and safe. We have run out of ways to underscore the importance of taking this virus seriously and ironically it’s not very complicated. Wear your mask, wash your hands and sanitizing the places you are. If you are experiencing symptoms please be tested and wait until you have results before you interact with others.”

The rest of the emergency order that accompanied the original mask mandate remains the same with no changes in businesses being open, crowd sizes or other guidelines.

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris also addressed the COVID-19 vaccine and the state’s hurdles in getting vaccines administered.

“We know there are a people in the public that are frustrated with the vaccine program. We want you to know we hear you,” Harris said. “It is my responsibility to ensure you get a vaccine and we will do that. We will do it as quickly as we possibly can.

“We will not have vaccines just sitting in freezers or on shelves, we will get it out as quickly as possible and into people’s arms. If you are someone in Alabama that wants a vaccine you will get it.”

Harris said that he believes vaccines can and will be administered quickly. He said that health departments across the state have been instructed to administer the vaccine all day every day until they run out of doses. He also said that all providers tasked with administering the vaccine are being surveyed and those that are not getting out their vaccines quickly enough will see the vaccines moved to other locations that can and will do it quicker.

Harris also announced that the state has issued into an agreement with WalMart to see the company’s pharmacies begin administering vaccines in the coming weeks. Harris also said that the state is on the verge of reaching an agreement with another “large chain pharmacy,” as well.

Harris also said that an online portal will be rolled out in the coming days, which will allow residents to sign up for an appointment to receive the vaccine.

To read the entire amended mask mandate, visit https://tinyurl.com/y5hzec7r.

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