Alabama governor declares 'narrowly-focused' COVID-19 state of emergency

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) on Friday issued a "limited, narrowly-focused" state of emergency declaration to help hospitals respond to the surge in coronavirus cases, according to AL.com.

“I want to be abundantly clear: there will be absolutely no statewide mandates, closures or the like,” Ivey said in a press release. “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.”

Ivey's emergency order will allow out-of-state health care professionals to practice in Alabama under temporary permits or expedited licenses. It also will allow hospitals to receive temporary waivers that will free up bed space for COVID-19 patients, among other things.

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Still, the governor reiterated that she has no plans of issuing any kind of statewide mask mandate.

"Alabama remains open for business," Ivey said in a statement. "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."

Alabama is currently battling a spike in coronavirus infections, with 4,000 new cases reported Friday, according to AL.com. The state had 2,430 hospitalized patients as of Friday.  

Ivey is the latest Republican governor of a Southern state to reject a statewide mask mandate, alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.