Alaska to end COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Order

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 11:27 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Next month, the Public Health Emergency Order governing Alaska with regard to COVID-19 is ending.

Adam Crum, Commissioner of the state Department of Health and Social Services, announced, “I am going to officially rescind the Public Health Emergency order granted to me.”

The order will end effective July 1. It was put in place April 30, 2021, following the end of the state’s disaster declaration.

The emergency order, enacted by the state legislature, gave the commissioner the ability to coordinate the state’s efforts at fighting the virus “to make sure vaccines and other available therapeutics were able to be moved around the state as well as how we looked at responding and procurement and licensing items,” Crum said.

With the end of the order, some health organizations may no longer be eligible to receive help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Bryan Fisher, Director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, explained, “Past July 1st of this year, any continuing COVID work that was being conducted by local folks under that Public Health Emergency Order will no longer be eligible for FEMA reimbursement.”

The Public Health Emergency Order allowed for Alaskans to receive extra benefits under the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Those added benefits will also come to an end.

According to Shawnda O’Brien, Director of Public Assistance in Alaska, “We will continue to issue those benefits through the month of August with that month being our transition month, and we will be noticing recipients that this emergency allotment will be ending in August.”

This decision does not reflect an attitude that the virus is over. Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink clarified, “We know that COVID is going to be with us probably as long as any of us are here.”

Meanwhile, a federal disaster declaration for the state of Alaska remains, and Fisher said, “There has been no indication yet from the federal administration on when that will end.”

Currently, more than 72% of Alaska’s population has received at least one dose of vaccine.

Some state actions to fight the pandemic will continue, like weekly numbers reporting and vaccination efforts.

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