Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey signed a new “limited, narrowly-focused” state of emergency on Friday which she said is aimed at assisting health care workers to manage the surge of COVID-19 patients that is inundating hospitals and pushing medical staff toward their breaking points.
Alabama documented 4,000 new cases on Friday. Even more alarming is that the number of people who are hospitalized has increased 10-fold to 2,430 from July’s 200, AL.com reported. State Health Officer Doctor Scott Harris said on Thursday that he expects that grim statistic to blow past January’s peak of 3,100 within the next few days.
Ivey’s order does not, however, contain any provisions for actually stopping the spread of SARS-COV-2 in her under-vaccinated state, where 95 percent of beds in intensive care units are currently occupied by coronavirus patients, AL.com noted:
- The emergency order will allow out-of-state doctors, nurses, and pharmacists to practice in Alabama under expedited licenses or temporary permits.
- It will allow hospitals to receive temporary waivers from the certificate of need process normally used for approving new services and facilities, a move intended to free up bed space for COVID-19 patients.
- In the proclamation, Ivey said the pandemic could overwhelm the state’s hospitals and health care personnel and undermine their ability to deliver care in the traditional and customary manner and standards of care. That means hospitals can follow alternative standards of care under emergency operations plans.
- The emergency order allows government boards covered under the Open Meetings Act to meet by videoconference or telephone conference.
- To expedite the movement of vehicles carrying emergency equipment, supplies and services in response to the pandemic, the Alabama Department of Transportation can issue waivers of allowing loads to exceed the weights and dimensions allowed by law. That does not allow vehicles to exceed the weight limits posted for bridges, the proclamation says.
- State and local government agencies can enter contracts for goods and services in response to the pandemic without first publicly advertising as is normally required.
- The proclamation says state employees who perform services in response to the pandemic away from their home bases will be reimbursed for their expenses.
And while Ivey paid lip service to individuals who have chosen to do the right thing and get vaccinated, she – like countless other Republican officials across the country – are refusing to enact measures that would prevent people from getting sick in the first place.
“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,” the governor said in a press release.
“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,” said Ivey.
“Let me be crystal clear: Alabama remains open for business,” she added. “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.”
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.