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Gov. Kay Ivey issues ‘limited, narrowly-focused’ state of emergency in response to rise in COVID-19 cases

Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) issued a state of emergency on Friday in response to the state’s rise in COVID-19 cases.

The state of emergency declaration largely focuses on granting health care providers flexibility in dealing with an increase in hospitalizations due to the virus. Ivey’s declaration is not accompanied by a public health order.

The governor highlighted the fact that vaccination numbers have gone up in recent weeks as part of her statement on the emergency declaration.

“I am really proud that over the last month, Alabama has seen more than a 100% increase – the highest in the country – in covid-19 vaccines being administered,” she said. “We owe those who have gotten the vaccine a tremendous debt of gratitude. No doubt, this will soon move us in the right direction, but at the current time, we also need to offer our frontline heroes – who are unfortunately treating a new wave of patients in Alabama’s hospitals – a helping hand as they put it all on the line to take care of our people.”

Ivey continued, “That is exactly what we are doing in issuing this limited, narrowly-focused state of emergency. I want to be abundantly clear: there will be absolutely no statewide mandates, closures or the like. This state of emergency is strategically targeted at removing bureaucracy and cutting red tape wherever we can to allow our doctors, nurses and hospital staff to treat patients that come through their doors.

“Let me be crystal clear: Alabama remains open for business. Alabamians do not need government telling us what to do or how to do it. Unlike last year when we were hoping for a miracle, our greatest weapon against covid-19 today is the vaccine, so, if you can, roll up your sleeve and get the shot,” she concluded

Ivey’s declaration allows health care facilities to expand capacities and eases restrictions on the employment of certain medical staff. It also permits alternative standards of care in those facilities and speeds up the procurement process for the state in obtaining emergency-related supplies.

Dr. Aruna Arora, president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, issued a statement supporting the governor’s move.

“Governor Ivey’s action today will help alleviate medical staffing shortages due to the sharp increase in COVID hospitalizations and Alabamians will have greater access to health care as a result,” Arora said. “Physicians throughout Alabama are grateful for Governor Ivey’s leadership and continue to urge everyone who can get vaccinated to get vaccinated.”

The full state of emergency declaration can be read here.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated from an earlier version to include a statement from Dr. Aruna Arora.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia