As the state and nation continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday extended her statewide mask mandate through October 2nd, urging residents to remain vigilant even as case numbers and hospitalizations caused by the virus are trending downward.

The current Safer At Home Order was set to expire Monday, and Ivey said relaxing restrictions statewide now could jeopardize that progress, and until a vaccine is developed, steps must be taken to prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease.

"Ultimately it is up to each individual to do our part, if not for ourselves, we should do it for our family and friends," Ivey said. "We all want to get back to normal, and the way to do that is to wear a mask."

Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said they were cautiously optimistic by the progress the state has seen since the mask mandate was first adopted in July.

"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 have lost loved ones to this virus. Today we are seeing the positive results from the sacrifices we are making," Ivey said. "Let me again thank the people of Alabama for your understanding, for your patience, for your support and for your willingness to help us get through these very difficult days."

The governor said she realizes that face coverings can be uncomfortable and burdensome, but they are a necessary sacrifice as we continue to combat COVID-19.

"I understand you don't want to wear the mask and I don't either," Ivey said, adding that she is regularly frustrated by masks fogging her glasses and muffling her speech. "I wish we didn't have to wear masks but we are seeing significant drops in our hospitalizations and daily COVID-19 numbers and I have no doubt this is a result of our mask ordinance."

Ivey and Harris also praised Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and University of Alabama President Stuart Bell for making their leadership in moving to close all bars in the city for two weeks Monday after UA saw an "unacceptable rise" in positive cases among students, faculty and staff in Tuscaloosa.

"I'd like to once again commend Tusclaoosa's leadership, both Mayor Walt Maddox and University of Alabama President Dr. Stuart Bell for making the difficult decisions they made as they focus on keeping their students safe while also keeping them on campus," Ivey said.

Stay tuned to the Tuscaloosa Thread for more details on the extension of this statewide order as they are released by the state.

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