With COVID-19 still running wild in Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday extended a mandatory mask mandate she first ordered in July.

Ivey said at a news conference in Montgomery that the vaccines approved last month have not had enough time to impact pandemic.

“At one point last week, of the 1,600 IC beds in our state, 1,561 were occupied,” she said. “Folks, that means that only 39 ICU beds were available for COVID-19 or cancer patients or folks involved in severe accidents.”

The latest “Safer at Home” order will expired March 5 at 5 p.m.

The governor gradually has eased restrictions on businesses imposed to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus. But unlike some of her fellow Southern governors, she has remained steadfast that people wear face coverings in public. Public health officials broadly agree that masks are effective at slowly transmission of the disease.

“Quite frankly, we are running out of ways to underscore the importance of taking this virus seriously,” she said. “And ironically, it’s not very complicated. Wear your mask; wash your hands; sanitize places where you are.”

(This is a developing story).

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