By Hannah Lester

Take a deep breath, Alabama – through your mask – because the safer at home order and mask ordinance have been extended through Oct. 2.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Thursday during a press conference that she is extending the ordinance, although the state of Alabama has been seeing improvements with cases.

“I talked at length with Dr. Debrah Burkes on Monday, and she was very complimentary of how much progress we’ve made here in Alabama since our mask order went into effect,” Ivey said.

Alabama has seen almost 120,000 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, said State Health Officer Scott Harris.

Out of that number, there have been almost 14,000 hospitalizations associated with the virus and 2,000 confirmed improbable deaths, Harris said.

“Given that, however, we are cautiously optimistic about what we’ve been seeing recently since the governor’s mask mandate went into effect,” he said. “We have definitely seen improvements in our daily numbers of new cases.”

The state saw an increase in cases after the Fourth of July holiday. Now, Labor Day is coming up and Ivey urged people to be careful.

“We’re making such good progress doing what we’ve been doing,” Ivey said. “We need to keep it up, especially because we’re coming into a holiday weekend. The temptation to gather in crowds of more than ten is upon us and we just need to be extra cautious ya’ll.”

Ivey also commended the city of Tuscaloosa for shutting down its bars when it deemed that necessary to stop the spread. She encouraged other businesses to shut down voluntarily if the need arises.

However, Ivey said that she does not want to see businesses have to close.

“The last thing I want to do is have to close businesses,” she said. “I say again I do not want to close businesses. People need to have a livelihood and they need to be healthy to have a livelihood.”

Nevertheless, she said she supported the Tuscaloosa mayor in his decision.

“Ultimately it is up to each individual to do our part,” Ivey said. “If not for ourselves, do it for your family and friends. We all want to get back to normal and the way to do that means wearing a mask. This year has certainly not gone the way we thought it would. Our businesses have been disrupted, our school year has been altered considerably and we’ve lost loved ones to this virus.”