Governors demand Trump renew public health emergency
The National Governors Association (NGA) is demanding Wednesday that President Trump’s administration renew the public health emergency past its July 25 deadline, although officials have indicated it will likely be extended.
The organization of the 55 U.S. governors of states and territories called on officials to officially extend the public health emergency declared for the coronavirus pandemic, saying it is “far from over.”
“Despite months of response to the coronavirus pandemic, many states have hit record numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, causing many governors to pause or roll back reopenings,” the NGA said in a press release.
The governors argued that the public health emergency declaration and other declarations allowed state and local governments to obtain access to benefits including, enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAPs), funding to test those who are uninsured and “critical regulatory flexibilities.”
“Without those options, governors’ ability to protect the health and safety of their residents will be reduced at a critical time,” the NGA said.
But Trump administration officials have indicated the emergency will likely be extended.
During a call between the White House coronavirus task force and state leaders on Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan (R), chairman of the NGA, raised the issue of the expiring public health emergency. According to a source familiar with the call, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar “didn’t make a firm commitment, but said he anticipated no issues.”
Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo also said in late June that officials were planning to renew the emergency.
“Enough already,” Caputo tweeted. “@HHSGov expects to renew the Public Health Emergency due to COVID-19 before it expires. We have already renewed this PHE once.”
— Michael R. Caputo (@SpoxHHS) June 29, 2020
Azar officially declared a public health emergency on Jan. 31 and renewed it on April 21. Public health emergency declarations need to be renewed every 90 days.
The U.S. surpassed 3 million cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with at least 131,666 fatalities, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Several states, including California, Texas and Florida, have seen record-breaking increases in new cases daily in the past week.
Brett Samuels contributed.