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What does ‘state of emergency’ mean?

california coronavirus state of emergency
CDC

(KION) Both the State of California and Santa Cruz County declared a state of emergency Monday in response to the spread of coronavirus, but what is a state of emergency?

According to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, or ASTHO, the process of declaring a state of emergency is different for every state, but it triggers a variety of authorities and actions. They can include:

  • Activation of response plans and mutual aid agreements
  • Activation of an operations center and incident command system
  • Authority to use funds and deploy people, equipment, supplies and stockpiles
  • Activation of statutory immunities and liability protections for those involved in the response
  • Suspension and waiver of rules and regulations
  • Streamlining of state administrative procedures

In the case of the emergency declaration in California Monday, Governor Newsom said it will help officials protect against price gouging, allow for health care workers to come from other states to help at health care facilities and allow those facilities the flexibility to plan and change to accommodate patients coming in.

Governors can declare emergencies for the state, but they may also give state health agencies, emergency management directors, homeland security directors, agricultural directors and local governments authority to declare an emergency, according to ASTHO. There are also several types of states of emergencies that can be declared to cover public health, disasters and other emergencies.

Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newell issued a local health emergency Monday. Dr. Newell will also ask the Board of Supervisors to declare a local emergency on March 10. The emergency was declared in this case to help local response to potential future coronavirus cases and manage resources to fight a potential outbreak. There are currently no reported coronavirus cases in Santa Cruz County, but declaring an emergency allows the county to prepare in case there are cases in the future.

Monterey County Administrative Officer Charles J. McKee later declared a local emergency for Monterey County on Monday. The county said this too was a precautionary measure to help mobilize and coordinate resources if the virus is detected there.

California News / News / Santa Cruz County / Top Stories

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.

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