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Pandemic emergency not same as disaster emergency

Posted on 03/16/2020
Pandemic emergency not same as disaster emergency

As the situation regarding COVID-19 continues to evolve, the Board of Commissioners wanted to take minute to explain the difference between a Declaration of a Pandemic Health Emergency and a Declaration of Disaster Emergency as it relates to Weld County.

A Declaration of Pandemic Health Emergency may be declared by Dr. Mark Wallace, the Weld County Health Officer, per County Code:

Sec. 14-10-10. - Declaration by County Health Officer.

In addition to the authorities granted the County Health Officer by and through the state statutes, the Health Officer shall have authority to declare a pandemic health emergency if, in his or her professional judgment, illness or health conditions within the County exist such that an emergency has been created thereby. The Health Officer shall declare that the pandemic health emergency has ended when, in his or her professional judgment, illness or health conditions within the County no longer are an emergency.

The Declaration of Pandemic Health Emergency allows Dr. Wallace to utilize other County personnel to perform Health Department tasks related to the emergency as directed by him. 

A Declaration of Disaster Emergency is issued by the Board of County Commissioners and is done primarily when the County has depleted its resources when responding to a disaster.  The Declaration of Disaster Emergency is needed to access Federal funds and resources to not only deal with the emergency as it happens but also through the duration of the recovery process. It also allows for reimbursement to the county for qualified resources and expenses put toward responding to the emergency.

The Board of County Commissioners has not declared a disaster emergency. The Board has been briefed by their Office of Emergency Management that the County is not beyond its resource capacity, as government, to deal with this situation.

Unlike a flood or a tornado, where the county could, for example, run out of barricades or require additional plows or motor graders to handle an event, the COVID-19 response from the county government level consists of workforce being able to continue to perform their work duties and provide services to the public.