Petersburg’s borough assembly Tuesday voted to keep a declaration of disaster emergency for the COVID-19 global health pandemic.
That declaration’s been in place since March 16. It recognizes the seriousness of the health risk and allows the borough government to work with other agencies to respond to the outbreak.
Assembly member Taylor Norheim wanted to vote on whether to keep it following the October 6 local election.
“We’ve heard several times from several people who do not believe there is an emergency,” Norheim said. “And I just thought, I’d throw it up here.”
However others on the assembly wanted to continue with a local emergency declaration until state and federal governments decide otherwise. Jeigh Stanton Gregor was among the voices supporting it.
“Although we’re doing well and have done well here in Petersburg and we hope that keeps up, state counts are really high, over 200 new cases a day,” Stanton Gregor said. “This is not a time to let our guard down and I think it’d be irresponsible for as a borough government to remove that emergency declaration at this point.”
The borough’s incident commander Karl Hagerman recommended keeping the declaration because of rising case counts elsewhere in the state. In addition, the two candidates elected to the borough assembly earlier this month have been supportive of the borough’s pandemic response.
The vote was 6-1 against the end of that declaration, with Norheim the only vote in favor.
In related decisions, the assembly was unanimous in approving an extension for COVID greeting, screening and testing at the airport through the end of this year. The state could pay up to an additional $123,525 for that extension. By the end of the year, that total state payment could be an estimated $423,725. In turn the borough has an agreement in place with the Petersburg Medical Center to do that screening and testing.