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Governor issues limited state of emergency to help hospitals

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 4:46 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey has issued a limited, narrowly-focused state of emergency, effective immediately. The new order is in response to the state’s surge in COVID-19 cases.

Ivey’s office says the emergency proclamation, effective immediately, is aimed at cutting red tape to ease burdens on health care providers and make government more responsive. This includes:

  • Easing burdens on healthcare providers: The proclamation will relax regulatory burdens to allow expanded capacity in health care facilities, additional liability protections, increased authority for front-line health care personnel and easier shipment of emergency equipment and supplies.
  • Making government more responsive: The proclamation will enable all levels of government to adapt to the COVID-19 surge. For example, one provision will allow expedited purchases of emergency-related equipment, while another will allow governmental bodies to meet remotely, subject to transparency rules.

This limited state of emergency is not accompanied by a public health order.

This week, Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris called the state’s hospitalization rise “unprecedented” and said the death toll is increasing again too. he said the virus is in danger of pushing hospitals beyond their capacity limits.

On Friday, however, the number of hospital patients stood at more than 2,400, a slight drop from Thursday. It comes as nearly 4,000 more cases were reported Friday along with 41 new deaths.

The Alabama Hospital Association reported on Friday that there were 39 intensive care unit beds available statewide. That’s approximately 2% of bed availability.

Alabama ranks among the lowest state’s for vaccinations, but that rate has been increasing lately.

Ivey also issued the following statement:

“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. 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.

“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.”

Ivey’s previous state of emergency for COVID-19 expired in July. It had been put in place on March 13, 2020.

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