MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has extended through the end of the month a COVID-19 state of emergency that relaxes some health care regulations.
The order was scheduled to expire Tuesday.
Ivey first ordered the "limited, narrowly-focused" state of emergency on Aug. 12, when a surge caused by the delta variant of the coronavirus and by Alabama's low vaccination rate was rising. The order was aimed at helping hospitals adjust to the caseload from the virus, al.com reported.
Alabama's case numbers and hospitalizations began to decline a few weeks later. The total number of patients in Alabama hospitals with COVID-19 fell under 1,000 on Friday, the first time it's been that low since July. The number of newly reported cases per day in Alabama has dropped more than 70% since early September, the governor's office said.
Despite that, the governor's proclamation Friday said the pandemic persists and "continues to present a serious threat to public health, taxing Alabama hospitals, many of which were already struggling to staff their facilities."
The proclamation relaxes some regulations to help allow expanded capacity in healthcare facilities, additional liability protections, increased authority for frontline health care personnel, and easier shipment of emergency equipment and supplies, the governor's office said. It also allows out-of-state doctors, nurses, and pharmacists to practice in Alabama under expedited licenses or temporary permits.