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County extends COVID-19 disaster declaration
Declaration opens door for state, federal aid
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On March 18, Barton County Commission Chairman Kenny Schremmer signed a Declaration of a State of Local Public Health Emergency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the commission ratified the 60-day declaration two days later. In May, the commission extended the declaration for another 60 days.

Monday morning, commissioners authorized the declaration to remain in place for yet 60 more days.

“In order to receive, state and federal aid during this public health emergencies, such as requesting (personal protective equipment) for local health care providers and other organizations that are eligible, you must have a current disaster declaration in place,” Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller said. The county was almost at the end of the 60-day extension OKed in May, but it will now run through Jan. 26 2021.

“This allow us to automatically receive any aid that we are eligible for in a very timely manner,” Miller said. “It allows us to call up to the State Emergency Operations Center, which was activated during the COVID-19 response, and make requests for any number of resources that we might need here in Barton County.”

Miller said all of the hospitals currently have enough of a PPE supply to last for the minimum 14 days. She does have one outstanding request for a long-term care facility and that should be arriving Monday. 

“Last week, I gave out a 90 day supply (that was a one-time availability from the state for non-medical organizations) that went to schools the college, and a couple of dental providers,” she said.

“This is good for the entire county,” Miller said. It covers all cities, townships and school districts, as well as the county.

The reason for the move is to open the door for disaster assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, she said. The resources would cover personal protective equipment and other supplies. 

It also cuts through paperwork, she said. “It provides for a smoother, quicker flow of supplies.

“The current COVID-19 local public health emergency allows commission’s to do 60-day disaster declarations instead of the normal, statutory, seven-day disaster declarations,” Miller said. The county is coming to the end of its first 60-day declaration so it needed to be continued for another 60 days, unless terminated earlier.

“By adopting this resolution, it allows us to continue to ask for PPE and other supplies, as well as allowing us to render other aid and assistance as asked for by local agencies and departments,” she said.