Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued a new state of emergency Friday in hopes of slowing the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Ivey’s office said the governor issued the “limited and narrowly-focused” state of emergency proclamation to help ease the burden on healthcare providers by allowing expanded capacity in healthcare facilities, additional liability protections, increased authority for frontline health care personnel and easier shipment of emergency equipment and supplies.

It will also allow all levels of government to be more responsive in adapting to the virus’s surge. The governor’s office says examples of that include expedited purchases of emergency-related equipment and allowing governmental bodies to meet remotely.

The state of emergency is effective immediately and does not include a public health order.

Ivey released the following statement about her decision:

“I am really proud that over the last month, Alabama has seen more than a 100% increase – the highest in the country – in covid-19 vaccines being administered. 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.

“Let me be crystal clear: Alabama remains open for business. 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.”

The Medical Association of the State of Alabama released a statement saying the proclamation will help alleviate shortages in hospitals.

“Governor Ivey’s action today will help alleviate medical staffing shortages due to the sharp increase in COVID hospitalizations and Alabamians will have greater access to health care as a result,” said Medical Association President Dr. Aruna Arora. “Physicians throughout Alabama are grateful for Governor Ivey’s leadership and continue to urge everyone who can get vaccinated to get vaccinated.”