DENVER – Eight of Colorado’s nine members of Congress on Thursday wrote to President Donald Trump asking him to approve Gov. Jared Polis’ request that the president declare a Major Disaster for the state – as he has in New York, California and Washington.
Polis wrote to the president Wednesday asking for the Major Disaster Declaration under the Stafford Act in order to free up extra medical, housing, unemployment help, counseling, hazard mitigation and other resources for the state to battle the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The fiscal impact to the State of Colorado will be beyond anything that our state, tribal, and local governments will be able to bear under these circumstances without causing severe harm to the operating capacity of governmental reserves,” Polis wrote. “As a result, I am requesting Federal assistance at 100% funding to alleviate these impacts caused by this global pandemic.”
Polis activated the state Emergency Operations Center on March 2 and signed an executive order March 11 declaring a state of emergency across Colorado. He also activated the state National Guard, Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to support the emergency operations center.
A statewide stay-at-home order issued Wednesday night by Polis went into effect at 6 a.m. Thursday in order to mitigate the spread of the virus and not to overload the state’s health care systems.
All of Colorado’s congressional delegation save for Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., wrote to the president Thursday urging them to grant Polis’ request in full.
“Colorado is already facing severe shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) such as respirators, gowns, gloves, and masks. PPE and sanitizing products remain highly requested and are difficult to provide due to continuing shortages. A recent set of supplies issued from the Strategic National Stockpile fulfilled just one day of PPE need in our state,” the members wrote.
“We agree with Governor Polis that this outbreak is of such severity and magnitude that effective response and recovery is beyond the capabilities of the State, Tribal governments, and affected local governments alone, and that supplementary federal assistance is required,” they added. “…For the sake of our state’s health and economic security, we urge your strong consideration and expedited approval of this request.”
Another request made by the full delegation , including Buck, on Wednesday – for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to approve a 1135 waiver to give the Colorado Medicaid program more flexibility during the outbreak – was granted Thursday, Sen. Bennet said.
“Our state’s health care system is facing unprecedented strains as it navigates this public health crisis. It is critical that we take steps now to remove any unnecessary bureaucracy hindering our ability to provide Coloradans with swift and effective care,” Bennet said in a statement.
The U.S. Senate voted 96-0 Wednesday to pass a coronavirus response stimulus package that the House is expected to pass on Friday.