By Hannah Lester

Gov. Kay Ivey once again extended Alabama’s mask ordinance, which is now set to expire on Jan. 22, 2021. 

Ivey updated Alabamians during a Wednesday press conference since the order was set to expire Dec. 11.

“I cannot thank the people of Alabama enough for the sacrifices you are making,” Ivey said. “Sacrifices for yourself and others.”

Ivey made no other changes to the mandate and safer-at-home order. She lifted some restrictions in November, such as removing occupancy limits on businesses, gyms and entertainment venues. 

She did not reimpose those guidelines. Ivey said that she and her team are not considering another lockdown because Alabamians need their businesses for their livelihoods. 

Masks are still required throughout the state.

“This is one sacrifice that we can all make to keep our friends and family safe,” she said.

Ivey’s stay-at-home order expired in April and the goal, ultimately, is to reach ‘safer apart.’ 

The state-of-emergency due to COVID-19, which Ivey extended on Nov. 5, was also set to expire on Jan. 7, 2021. However, she has now extended the state-of-emergency through March 8, 2021. 

Ivey said that although the vaccine will arrive soon, the pandemic is not over. 

“Ya’ll I’m not trying to be Governor Memaw, as some on social media have said, I’m just simply trying to urge you to use the common sense that the Good Lord gave each of us,” Ivey said. 

State Health Officer Scott Harris updated residents on the vaccine and said that the United States is adding about one million new cases a week.

“We do have some cause for optimism with the rollout of the vaccine,” he said.

Alabama should receive the vaccine as early as next week, Harris said. It has not arrived yet, he said, despite rumors.

There are fifteen hospitals in the state that will receive the vaccine first, the state health officer said.

“Once the hospitals get those vaccines … we’ll be ready to get shots into arms that day, either that day or the next day,” he said.

Hospitals will keep vaccines for their staff but the high-risk residents in the area will receive them too.

Alabama will receive the Pfizer product first and the Moderna product will follow soon after.

Health-care workers will receive the vaccine first. Health-care workers include those in hospitals, in nursing homes, those truly on the front lines and those working in doctor’s offices.

Alabama should receive just under 41,000 doses at the start. The vaccine is a two-dose product, however, the state will go ahead and inject 41,000 people and then has three weeks to get the second dose for those who received the first dose, Harris said.

The second-highest priority will be nursing home residents, he said.