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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announces end dates for COVID-19 health order and state of emergency

Touring an Alabama National Guard vaccination site in Wilcox County are, from left, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and Maj. Gen. Sheryl Gordon, adjutant general of the Alabama National Guard. (Hal Yeager / Governor's Office)
Alabama Newscenter

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced this week the current COVID-19 public health order will expire May 31 and the existing pandemic state of emergency will end July 6 with no plans to extend either.

“For over a year now, Alabamians, like people around the globe, have made sacrifices and adjusted to a temporary ‘new normal.’ We have learned much since last year, and this is absolutely now a managed pandemic,” Ivey said. “Our infection rates and hospitalizations are in better shape, and over 1.5 million Alabamians have had at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

It’s the latest move by Ivey, who ended the state’s mask mandate April 9 with a Safer Apart order that was to expire May 5.

The current Safer Apart order is mostly recommendations aligned with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. There is specific guidance requiring senior citizen centers to follow guidelines issued by the Alabama Department of Senior Services and hospitals and nursing homes must follow current guidance from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with respect to visitation.

Gov. Kay Ivey received a COVID-19 vaccine from RN Donna Pugh. (Hal Yeager / Governor’s Office)

Ivey said those remaining requirements will now end Monday, May 31 unless there is “a great spike in COVID-19 cases.”

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said vaccinations are aiding in the ending of the orders.

“As we approach the 14th month of this pandemic, we are pleased that two-thirds of Alabama residents age 65 and older have been vaccinated,” Harris said. “While some barriers such as transportation remain, more than 1,300 providers in the state are administering safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine in communities throughout the state.”

To help get vaccinations to rural parts of the state, the Alabama Department of Public Health has been working with the Alabama National Guard.

“We are very appreciative of Gov. Ivey and our excellent working relationship with the Alabama National Guard,” Harris said. “The state is really fortunate to have these men and women to support us. Guard members have concluded six weeks of vaccination clinics in 24 rural and underserved counties, and now are planning smaller mobile sites in each public health district to offer vaccine to hard-to-reach populations. I am excited about the progress that has been made.”

As of April 5, all Alabamians ages 16 and older have been eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Ivey continues to encourage Alabamians to get the safe and effective vaccine.

“Look, I have been vaccinated. I believe in the science, believe that it works and have confidence in it,” Ivey said. “So, like I said, I have been fully vaccinated, and I will live like I have been fully vaccinated. Similar to when we ended the mask requirement, this final extension gives all Alabama health care providers, businesses and individuals adequate time to make preparations.”

Ivey is not calling Monday, May 31 or Friday, July 6 the end to the pandemic, but rather an end to the state’s official response to it when it comes to a public health order or state of emergency declaration.

“Alabamians have consistently stepped up to the plate over the course of this pandemic, and I know they will continue to do so,” she said. “I am pleased that we have shown the rest of the country that we are gritty and determined. We are signaling loud and clear that Alabama is open, and we are moving forward.”