Alaska health commissioner announces COVID emergency order will end in July

Alaska Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum speaks at a news conference on COVID-19, Wednesday, April 1, 2020. (Creative Commons photo by Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)

State health commissioner Adam Crum will rescind Alaska’s public health emergency order for COVID-19 on July 1.

During a press conference Monday, Crum said the department has been working to make sure any COVID-specific tools and systems Alaskans still need are now permanent or sustainable.

“What’s changing for the average Alaskan is nothing. Most folks actually probably don’t even understand that we still have this in place,” he said.

The state Legislature granted the public health commissioner the authority to declare an emergency order in 2021. Crum’s emergency order would have expired with any federal emergency order unless he rescinded it earlier. The federal public health emergency runs through July 15 but is anticipated to be extended through this fall.

July 1 is also the date federal reimbursement will change. FEMA previously reimbursed COVID spending at 100%; after July 1 it will fund 90% with a 10% state match.

The end of the order also means the end of extra SNAP benefits for the more than 56,000 households in the state that receive them. That extra benefit could be anywhere from $95 to more than a thousand depending on the size of the family. Those benefits will continue through August of this year.

Public health director Heidi Hedberg said public health will continue to offer COVID-19 services.

“We are going to continue to pick up the phone, we are going to continue to be there to answer questions, we’re going to continue to make sure that there is access to testing materials and vaccine and therapeutics,” Hedberg said.

The state’s health department will also monitor and track COVID-19 cases and report them on a weekly basis.

COVID-19 public health resources

This story has been updated.

Claire Stremple

Alaska News Reporter, KTOO

I believe every Alaskan has a right to timely information about their health and health systems, and their natural environment and its management. My goal is to report thoughtful stories that inform, inspire and quench the curiosity of listeners across the state.

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