MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has declared a public health emergency, citing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and a strain on public health institutions in the state.
“I, Kay Ivey, Governor of the State of Alabama, on the recommendation of the State Health Officer…do hereby declare that a public health emergency exists in the State of Alabama for the disease referenced as ‘COVID-19,'” the proclamation stated.
The declaration, signed Friday, announced that a state of emergency was necessary, in part, because “current hospitalizations in Alabama could surpass the record set in January 2021 by next week, and that the steep rise in COVID-19 cases has put ‘extreme stress’ on Alabama hospitals.”
It also cited the low availability of ICU beds in Alabama as a reason for the state of emergency.
The declaration trumps certain provisions of state law to facilitate more efficient use of health care resources in the state. The changes allowed by the declaration are in the areas listed below
- Expanding ways health care can be administered in hospitals
- Allows for emergency rules to allow quicker licensing for out-of-state healthcare practitioners
- Suspends certain laws that limit the capacity of healthcare facilities
- Allows healthcare facilities to operate under “alternative standards of care” plans
- Declares healthcare workers operating under such rules as “emergency management workers”
- Suspends the state’s Open Meetings Act to allow for meetings over telephone, video, or similar means
- Waives certain federal hours-of-service requirements as it related to those helping in the provision of emergency or disaster-related materials
- Suspends the requirement for state agencies and local governments to publicly advertise calls for bids for necessary goods and services
- Allows for reimbursement of costs incurred by state employees to work from home
In a post on her Twitter page, Gov. Ivey called the declaration “a limited, narrowly-focused state of emergency for Alabama,” although the declaration itself does not include that language.
In a statement, the governor also emphasized that there will be “absolutely no statewide mandates, closure or the like.”
“Let me be crystal clear: Alabama remains open for business,” Ivey said. “Alabamians do not need government telling us what to do or how to do it.”
Dr. Aruna Arora, president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, issued this statement following Ivey’s announcement:
“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. Physicians throughout Alabama are grateful for Governor Ivey’s leadership and continue to urge everyone who can get vaccinated to get vaccinated.”