By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
The state of emergency declared for Wyoming last year because of the coronavirus pandemic needs to continue to allow the state to take advantage of certain federal programs related to the illness, according to a spokesman for Gov. Mark Gordon.
Fremont County Commissioners recently discussed approaching the governor’s office about lifting the declaration issued March 13, 2020, according to a report in the Ranger newspaper in Riverton.
Commissioners cited steady declines in coronavirus cases seen in the past several months.
But Michael Pearlman, Gordon’s spokesman, said the declaration is needed if the state is to take advantage of programs aimed at covering some of the state’s expenses for addressing the illness.
“One that that’s important to keep in mind is that many of (the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s) policies regarding COVID-19 cost reimbursement are based upon the existence of a public health emergency,” Pearlman told the Cowboy State Daily. “So there would be financial consequences to the state were the governor to lift the state of emergency.”
In addition, the order gives the governor the ability to exercise certain executive powers, Pearlman said, such as orders extending some emergency rules needed to keep government in operation during the pandemic.
Gordon also used executive orders to have the state Department of Family Services prepare to distribute rental assistance even before legislation approving a rental assistance program was approved.
“This was critical to ensure that the public could receive federal benefits as quickly as possible,” Pearlman said.
Gordon will lift the order when advised to do so by public health officials and affected government agencies, Pearlman said.