Governor Dunleavy Ends Alaska COVID-19 Emergency Declaration and signs HB 76
Following the signing of House Bill 76, legislation that ensures the continuation of COVID-19 federal relief to impacted Alaskans and liability protections for Alaska businesses, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy signed a proclamation Friday ending the state’s COVID-19 disaster declaration.
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“Today I took immediate action to end the COVID-19 disaster declaration. Alaska is in the recovery phase where an emergency declaration is no longer necessary. Our systems are fully functioning with vaccine distribution, adequate testing, and health care capacity. It is important our focus remains on getting Alaska’s economy back on track and welcoming summer tourism throughout our great state. I am confident in our state’s future as we move forward.”
With the signing of HB 76 and then ending the disaster declaration, Dunleavy is ensuring the state is still eligible for federal COVID-19 relief funds.
The legislation also ensures the continuation of the state’s vaccine distribution and COVID-19 management programs without interruption. These management programs include enhanced SNAP benefits for Alaskans with food insecurity.
The governor’s actions follow recommendation by Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Commissioner Adam Crum that conclude the COVID-19 public health emergency disaster declaration is no longer necessary.
Crum signed a Public Health Order, directing DHSS to continue taking all necessary actions to address the COVID-19 pandemic. In a memo to the Governor, Crum wrote:
“While COVID-19 is still present in Alaska, the urgent nature of the pandemic has passed and we are no longer anticipating the widespread emergency that Alaska faced earlier in this pandemic. As a result of the state’s early containment efforts, we have established a comprehensive public health infrastructure to respond to COVID-19 that will remain in place as we continue to strive to keep infection rates low, testing availability high, and protect the capacity of our health care facilities to address cases of COVID-19, while accommodating all medical and health related issues that the residents of our state encounter.”
The Alaska State Senate passed House Bill 76 on Wednesday, with concurrence in the House of Representatives on Thursday. At the bill signing, Senate President Peter Micciche said:
“I am proud to stand with Governor Dunleavy as Alaska transitions back to normalcy. Today, we celebrate the end of the emergency declaration thanks to innovative solutions in the Senate’s version of HB 76. In collaboration with the administration and the House, this bill was designed to manage us out of the pandemic, while still protecting Alaskans. It will provide critical economic support to those harmed by local government actions, helping them rebuild their lives and regain financial independence. The emergency declaration is dead, and the tools are here for businesses to reopen, students to return to the classroom, and for all to enjoy the freedom of a pre-COVID Alaska.”