Even as the number of active cases have reached just 35 for the county, Matagorda County Commissioners approved the extension of the county’s declaration of disaster for COVID-19 beginning Aug. 24 and ending Sept. 28.
“We are still in the midst of this thing,” said Matagorda County Judge Nate McDonald. “We probably need to keep in it place in case something happens but we are headed in the right direction. I just believe we need to continue to keep that declaration in place and see where we are at the end of this month.”
Commissioners also approved an extension of a declaration of disaster for Hurricane Laura from Sept. 10 through Sept. 28.
“We know we had some damage in the Sargent area and possibly in other areas and we want to make sure we have active declaration in place in case funds come down from Austin,” McDonald said.
County Commissioner Kent Pollard said all the destruction caused in Louisiana has resulted in a delay for debris removal to take place in Matagorda County.
“We had a little bit of wait and delay in getting our contractor in place for debris pickup,” Pollard said. “They are mobilizing this minute and should begin picking up debris this week.”
A Disaster Declaration is a formal statement by a jurisdiction that a disaster or emergency exceeds the response and/or recovery capabilities. Although a declaration is commonly addressed after a disaster, a declaration may be made if a disaster is found to be imminent.
The FEMA declaration makes federal funding available to the states to use to fight the spread of the virus. State and local governments have struggled to obtain enough medical supplies amid the pandemic, with some governors saying there have been bidding wars between states and with the federal government.
The designation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency allows states and territories to access federal funds to help fight the coronavirus spread. State officials and doctors have been competing for essential supplies like ventilators and personal protective equipment as hospitals grapple with shortages.
FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available for the state of Texas to supplement the state, tribes and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic beginning on January 20 and continuing.
The action makes federal funding available for crisis counseling for affected individuals in all areas of the state of Texas.
Federal funding is also available to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct federal assistance under Public Assistance, for all areas affected by COVID-19 at a federal cost share of 75 percent.
George A. Robinson has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further assessments.
When it comes to the battle against COVID-19, Matagorda County Public Information officer Mitch Thames said the news was “quite good but we have to remain cautious over it as well.”
“We have only had 29 new cases over past seven days,” Thames said. “We only have 35 active cases right now. That is good news. What my fear is I think a lot of people are going to want to start modifying their lifestyle. We have not eliminated the virus, just mitigated it. We are still following the guidelines from the CDC. We don’t 35 to move to 235. Not a time to stop following guidelines, but a time to double down on this virus.”