Miranda Prescott, News Editor
In a press conference on Thursday, Governor Kay Ivey announced that the current mask mandate in the state would be extended until March 5.
There will be no changes made with this extension and the current ordinance was set to expire January 22.
“Wearing the mask is the one step we can all take to keep some balance in our daily lives and to stay healthy and safe.” Ivey said.
Ivey also encouraged Alabama residents to continue practicing personal responsibility and urged them to have patience. She thanked Alabamians for their willingness to receive the vaccine and for continuing to “keep on keeping on.”
Ivey also gave thanks for those who work within the Alabama Department of Public Health and said that they have worked tirelessly with little public recognition.
The ADPH said that there are approximately 432,536 cases of COVID-19 in the state thus far, with an average of over 2600 positive tests daily. Ivey said that this number is lower than the spike seen over the holiday season, but is a higher average than those around four months ago.
As for the vaccine itself, Dr. Scott Harris explained that there has been approximately 202,643 doses administered since the initial delivery of the first order of vaccines. Harris said that this is only 42 percent of the vaccines that the state has received, as the majority of supplies that are left at this time is second doses for those who have already received the first.
This number is 70,000 doses higher than reported by the federal agencies, though Harris said that the state is working with them to update that number and that vaccine locations are required to document the quantity of vaccines they have.
Harris also said that while there are 502 locations in the state approved for administering the vaccine, only a little over half of those locations actually house the vaccine at this time.
“Those with the vaccines in their facility will be required to administer the majority of the vaccines within a week of receiving them, otherwise they may be redistributed elsewhere to areas that need them more.” he said.
Harris also announced that the state has worked out a partnership with Walmart for their pharmacies to start administering the vaccines as well and that federal agencies are still in talks with other chain pharmacies about the vaccine as well.
It was also announced that an online portal will be available within the next few days for people who are eligible to receive the vaccine at this time to register online rather than over the phone. Harris said that the 165 phone lines are overwhelmed with calls, with over half of them coming from people who are not at this time eligible to receive the vaccine.
“If you are not eligible for the vaccine, do not call asking about it at this time.” said Harris.
Harris also said that the Biden administration has made a recommendation to increase the pool of eligibility and that it will be made as soon as production of the vaccine increases enough for the state to receive a larger amount.