NEW YORK (PIX11) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul extended the state’s mask mandate through Feb. 10, nine additional days after it was initially set to expire.

The governor said the mandate has been “critical tool” in fighting a recent surge of the virus caused by the omicron variant. The policy will be reviewed every two weeks.

“We didn’t know at the time when we put in our mask or vaccine requirement … what January or February could look like,” Hochul explained before announcing the expansion. “If we can continue on this rapid trend downward, we’ll be in a good place … I need that flexibility.”

Positivity rates in the state are on the decline, currently resting at 6.15%. Hospitalizations are also dropping from a high of 12,000 patients — still, Hochul told residents to continue taking the virus seriously “until we’re out of this storm.”