By Faye Gaston
On August 13, 2020, Alabama Kay Ivey issued a new "state of emergency" for Alabama because of surging COVID-19 cases She said, "I want to be absolutely clear: there will be 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".
She said she has no plans to return to mask mandates in schools or for the public, or to order limitations on businesses.
Alabama hospital ICU's were at 98% capacity on August 13, 2021, with COVID-19 patients making up nearly half of all those patients.
Governor Ivey said, "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 people. That is exactly what we are doing in issuing the limited, narrowly focused state of emergency,"
The Governor's office said that the 'state of emergency' will "allow our health care community greater flexibility to offer care for patients."
It will ease regulatory burdens on heath care providers, allow hospitals to expand capacity and allow the state to expedite purchase of emergency equipment.
The previous "state of emergency" for Alabama expired on July 6, 2021, Governor Ivey declared it on March 13, 2020, the day of Alabama's first confirmed COVID-19 case. Alabama's mask mandate ended in the spring.
Dr. Don Williamson, Alabama Hospital Association President, said that if Alabama needed tent hospitals, as being used in Texas, Alabama would not have the staff to run them. The 'state of emergency' declaration could help increase staffing to work in such a setting. He also said, "If we get to that point, we're going to have to get federal assistance".
Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama State Health Officer, said he expects Alabama will surpass the state's all-time COVID-19 hospitalization high, which was 3,084 on January 11, within the next 3 or 4 days. He was asked whether Alabama could have to call on help from federal medical teams to assist in Alabama's overburdened hospitals, as in Louisiana and Mississippi.
He said Alabama has not made a formal request for federal medical teams, but he has had numerous calls and a long visit with federal officials about possibly doing so.
He added that healthcare institutions had made written requests for a "disaster declaration" to be issued.
Dr. Aruna Arora, President of the Medical Association of the state of Alabama, commended Governor Ivey on issuing the 'state of emergency'.