Commissioners extend COVID disaster declaration

Commissioners extend COVID disaster declaration

Matagorda County officials approved an extension of the county’s declaration of disaster for COVID-19 through Jan. 25 during Monday’s ZOOM meeting.

“This is just a disaster declaration for COVID-19 to keep us in line for state or federal help that comes along,” said Matagorda County Judge Nate McDonald.

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.

Commissioners also approved Memorandum of Understanding between Matagorda County and Boys and Girls Club of Palacios and the Boys and Girls Club of Bay City with the respect to Coronavirus relief funds.

According to County Auditor Krista Kubecka, each entity requested disaster relief of $10,000 from the county.

“This covers anything from protective gear to cleaning supplies to get them in line with CDC guidelines when they reopened,” Kubecka said. “They did accommodate all the workers and in the beginning they all stayed open. They filed an official request and we have tried to keep it fair to all of the entities that requested funds. This may be the last request that we will be considering this year.”

McDonald also said the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palacios and Bay City did a great job during the pandemic dealing with the children of the county’s ISDs.

“They provided services to school kids just like the ISDs do and we are keeping it in level with the schools,” McDonald said. “They are very important to working families in our county and our kids have a safe place to go to after school.”

Matagorda County Sheriff Skipper Osborne questioned when the police first responders will be receiving their does of the COVID-19 vaccines.

“There is no word on when it get there for sheriff’s office and first responders will be getting their vaccines,” McDonald said. “My view is for the folks that come face-to-face with COVID-19 patients every day need to get the vaccine first. The hospital got it direct from the state. It is moving quickly though and I feel we should get a second round sometime this week.”

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