LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. — After 16 months, nearly a year and a half, Alabama’s COVID-19 State of Emergency order is now expired.
The order has in large part dictated the pace of our lives, telling people when and where to wear masks, how certain businesses should operate, and how emergency funds could be distributed.
“The end of the State of Emergency is both a great milestone and it’s also a little bit scary,” said Judy Smith with the Alabama Department of Public Health.
The day the governor declared a State of Emergency, March 13, 2020, was the day the state had it’s first confirmed case of the virus. Three days later, on March 19, the governor issued a public health order which banned indoor dining, restricted visitors at hospitals and nursing homes, and halted large gatherings.
For the next year or so, Governor Ivey issued and extended various health orders.
In May 2020, she extended the State of Emergency by 60 days, the first time she had done so since 2011. She extended it again a few months later, in July.
In December, there was a spike in hospitalizations and the state reached over 4,000 COVID-19 deaths, but the first shipments of the vaccine arrived in the state and efforts to get shots in arms were in full force.
Smith says the state has come far since the beginning of the pandemic, but even with the State of Emergency officially over it doesn’t necessarily mean the virus threat is over.
“Our numbers since Memorial Day are back up a little,” said Smith. “They’re certainly, by no means back up where they were this time six months, eight months ago. But does it concern us? Sure it concerns us.”
In the last 14 days across the state, 1,997 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 out of the 74,839 tested, according to the ADPH COVID-19 dashboard.
Meanwhile, 1,854,571 Alabamians have received one or both vaccine doses, but the number of people getting vaccinated has continuously dropped since April.
“One of the vaccine hesitancy comments that we have gotten is that sometimes people don’t feel good after they have had the vaccine for a day or so,” said Smith. “Let me assure you, a day of not feeling good is a heck of a lot better than two weeks, two months.”
32% of Alabamians are fully vaccinated and the state remains near the bottom nationwide for vaccines. Smith says even with the State of Emergency now over, there is still more work to be done.