Washington County extends emergency declaration

Robert Houk • Updated May 13, 2020 at 11:23 AM

Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy has extended the county’s emergency declaration for the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The executive order keeps the county eligible to receive reimbursements for COVID-19 costs from state and federal sources. 

The renewed declaration expires on May 19, and as was the case with previous orders, can be extended by the mayor in seven-day increments.

As authorized by state law, the emergency declaration allows the county to “appropriate and expend funds,” make contracts and distribute materials and resources that provide “assistance to victims of any emergency” within the “unincorporated limits” of the county.

The measure also allows the mayor and county officials to appoint and coordinate emergency management operations to protect the “health and safety of persons and property” during the COVID-19 declaration.

The county can also request emergency-related assistance and mutual aid from federal and state officials during the pandemic.

Grandy said Tuesday the county will look to be reimbursed for its COVID-19 costs by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. He said the county is following the lead of President Donald Trump and Gov. Bill Lee in maintaining emergency declarations.

“The county is keeping itself in line to capture any dollars possible from state and federal sources,” Grandy said.

He said the Washington County Courthouse remains closed to the general public, with county employees still conducting most essential government business online, by phone and through the mail.

“It’s important that we continue to provide the services our citizens need, and keep our workforce safe and healthy,” the mayor said.

Washington County, in accordance with guidelines established by the governor, has begun a phased reopening various segments of the economy. Grandy said he will use data that tracks the number of new COVID-19 cases reported since business activity restarted earlier this month to decide when to reopen county offices to the public.

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