Gov. Ivey extends mask order through Jan. 22 as Alabama prepares for vaccine

Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Wednesday that the state's mask order will be extended through Jan. 22. (Courtesy of ABC 33/40)Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Wednesday that the state's mask order will be extended through Jan. 22. (Courtesy of ABC 33/40)

Miranda Prescott, News Editor

Governor Kay Ivey announced at a press conference on Wednesday that the current mask order in effect will be extended until Jan. 22, 2021.

The “safer-at-home” order, which was set to expire on Friday, Dec. 11, remains the same as its preceding order, barring the mask extension.

“I am asking that the citizens of Alabama use the common sense that the Lord gave them,” said Ivey. “I’m not trying to be Governor MeeMaw like social media may suggest.”

Ivey’s reasoning behind the extension is due to the current spike in cases that the state has seen over the course of the past month. 

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, there have been 41,430 confirmed cases in the state over the past 14 days, with over 120,000 more that have been tested. There have also been approximately 3,985 deaths from the virus in the state thus far, with 460 more probable. 

As for Jacksonville State University and the surrounding area, the university is reporting 38 cases being tracked through its dashboard as of Wednesday. Calhoun County is reporting 1,206 positive cases over the past 14 days with 51 hospitalizations from the virus. 

Both Ivey and Scott Harris, the state health officer, said that these are “dark days” for the state regarding the pandemic and that the numbers in the state are similar to how they appeared in July.

Harris said that the COVID-19 vaccine will hopefully be in the state — pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration — by early next week. However, the state has plans to slowly distribute them due to the storage conditions of the specific vaccine the state will acquire.

“The Pfizer vaccine is required to be kept at around negative 80 degrees, and only a handful of areas in the state can support that,” said Harris. “We will be getting shipments of approximately 950 vaccines at a time.”

While the state will be starting out with the Pfizer vaccine, Harris explained that the Moderna vaccine will also be making its way to the state soon, and that no one should be charged to get the vaccine because it is coming to the state through a federal grant. 

Harris also reminds Alabamians that the Pfizer vaccine is to be taken in two doses, and that nursing homes and health care workers will receive priority once the state can distribute them. 

While these groups have the immediate priority, however, it may be as late as early summer 2021 before the average Alabamian has access to the vaccine, as it may not be available in large quantities to the state until then.

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