ALABAMA, USA — Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday issued her twenty-second supplemental emergency proclamation extending the Safer at Home Order that includes a statewide mask requirement.
The order states that individuals will be required to wear a mask or other facial covering when in public and in close contact with other people, as described in the order. This order extends until Friday, March 5, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.
Governor Ivey said there are no changes to the order. She also highlighted the importance of everyone doing what they can to reduce the virus spread. In the week of Jan. 11, more than 1,500 of the state's 1,600 ICU beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients, greatly reducing the beds available for people with cancer, those who have suffered traumatic accidents, or others with a need for ICU care.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris says that the Alabama Dept. of Public Health is working as fast as it can to get vaccine distributed, and redistributing vaccine from providers who are not distributing it as quickly as they can.
"We're going to give each provider a week for each shipment they receive and they are expected to administer the majority of that," said Dr. Harris. "If not, we'll make a determination about whether that vaccine needs to go somewhere else."
Because vaccine rollout is lagging, state health leaders have ordered county health departments to vaccinate people all day, every day until they run out of doses.
So far, the state has given about 42% of doses received. Dr. Harris says the other 58% are for second doses or for those who have scheduled an appointment.
Dr. Harris said, "The only vaccine remaining in county health departments at this point are second doses for people or in some cases for people that have appointments through the rest of the month to come in for their first dose."
Right now, there are 502 COVID-19 vaccination providers in the state. Dr. Harris says only a little over half of those providers have actually received doses.
With regards to how other states are handling vaccinations, particularly mass vaccination sites, Harris says that these sites have their own problems with distribution. ADPH is holding some drive-thru vaccine clinics in limited areas.
The Biden administration is pushing for states to expand who is eligible to get the vaccine to people 65 and older. In order to do that, state health leaders say they need more doses.
"Our allotment is between 50,000 and 60,000 doses a week. We've been told that's not going to change any time soon," said Dr. Harris.
Harris also reiterated that the number of doses of vaccine is based on population, not the number of vaccines given.
Currently in Alabama, only first responders and people 75 or older are eligible to get the COVID vaccine.
In the next few days, Dr. Harris says the state plans launch an online portal to make it easier for those eligible to make vaccination appointments.