Experts weigh in on Governor’s Public Health Order expiring at end of the month

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Governor Kay Ivey announced Monday the state’s Public Health Order will end May 31 and the State of Emergency will end July 6.

There are several layers to the order, but the main premise of it was for Alabamians to take self-responsibility in limiting the spread. Experts say the numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to drop and more people are getting the shot, they warn people the pandemic isn’t over yet.

“Regardless of whether there are orders in place, that doesn’t make the risks go away,” Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson said.

Dr. Wilson says the virus is still at large in Alabama and across the world due to more variants of the deadly virus.

“We remain concerned about the variants and the possibility of us having another increase in cases or even a surge,” Dr. Wilson said.

Part of the Safer Apart Order states businesses are to encourage mask-wearing and social distancing. Dr. Michael Saag with UAB says it’s those guidelines that are protecting non-vaccinated people and fears the variants could cause problems in younger people.

“In fact, I would argue that it’s less safe because the variants are more transmissible,” Dr. Saag said.

Dr. Scott Harris said in a release from the Governor’s Office there are some barriers in the vaccine efforts, but sees progress as well. Experts say if more and more people get the shot, then health orders could become a thing of the past.

“We all need to do our part to help our neighbors, help our loved ones and help our friends,” Dr. Wilson said.

“Stand up. Protect yourselves and your community by getting vaccinated,” Dr. Saag said.

But if cases do skyrocket or another surge hits the state, Dr. Saag says the Governor needs to act appropriately.

“I will hold her to what she said that we are going to monitor this. And I’m sure that if things change, she will revisit it,” Dr. Saag said.

Based on the Governor’s announcement, nursing homes and hospitals will continue to follow CDC COVID-19 protocols and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with respect to visitation. Experts urge the public to continue to wear masks and social distance until the state reaches herd immunity.

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