Alabama lowering flags to remember COVID-19 victims

March 13, 2021 GMT
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey holds a sit down interview with reporters in the Governor's office at the Alabama State Capitol Building in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (Jake Crandall/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey holds a sit down interview with reporters in the Governor's office at the Alabama State Capitol Building in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (Jake Crandall/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey holds a sit down interview with reporters in the Governor's office at the Alabama State Capitol Building in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (Jake Crandall/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey holds a sit down interview with reporters in the Governor's office at the Alabama State Capitol Building in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (Jake Crandall/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey holds a sit down interview with reporters in the Governor's office at the Alabama State Capitol Building in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (Jake Crandall/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama will lower its flags on Saturday to recall the more than 10,200 lives that have been lost to COVID-19 over the last year.

Gov. Kay Ivey issued an order to state agencies on Friday saying flags should remain at half-staff until sunset.

The day marked the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the state. Since then, more than 500,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus statewide, and statistics from Johns Hopkins University show Alabama has the 10th highest death rate per capita in the nation.

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Ivey said it was appropriate to pay respects to the thousands of people who have died.

“Over the course of the last year, Alabama, along with the rest of the nation and world, has been tested in ways we could have never imagined. Despite these unprecedented times, Alabamians have persevered together and are now edging closer to brighter days,” she said in the memo.

Cases and hospitalizations have fallen dramatically nationwide since a spike blamed on the holidays and the wider distribution of vaccines to protect against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The rolling average number of daily new cases in Alabama has decreased by roughly 365, or about 37%, over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. The state’s death count is the 16th highest in the nation.

With more than 765,000 receiving at least one dose of vaccine in the state, Ivey has said she will let a statewide order requiring facial coverings expire next month. Alabama will expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations to more frontline workers, residents with certain chronic health conditions, and people 55 and older on March 22.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.