Gov. Wolf in no hurry to end COVID state of emergency

This Week in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — COVID restrictions are easing up. Vaccines are now plentiful. But is there any discussion at the State level about ending the state of emergency?

March 6, 2020, Governor Wolf declares Coronavirus a disaster. 14 months later the State of Pennsylvania is still in a state of emergency.

“I want to get back to life as normal as quickly as I can,” Wolf said.

But Governor Wolf won’t be too quick to end the disaster declaration which he says lets him cut red tape like licensing requirements for medical professionals and send lots of federal funding.

“So to the extent lifting the emergency declaration forces us to move away from those things the money, forces us to go back to harsher regulations, I think that might be a problem,” Wolf said.

“It brings authority to be able to quickly and effectively respond to any disaster or emergency that occurs across the state,” Randy Padfield, the head of PA’s Emergency Management Agency said.

So what’s the incentive for a state to ever end a disaster declaration?

“That’s a great question,” Padfield said. “We don’t want to use the authorities under a disaster declaration ad infinitum to be able to continue things.”

COVID restrictions are being eased and vaccines rolled out, is PA ready to declare an end to the state of emergency?

“Ultimately at some point in time there has to be a decision made that a disaster or an emergency is back within the confines of the ability of the state to respond,” Padfield said. “And usually that’s where we see that conversation going.”

A conversation the Governor doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to have.

“I think we have to be really careful, we’re gonna lose a lot if we say we want to go forward with that,” Wolf said.

For context, the Governor recently re-upped his opioid disaster declaration for the 14th time. It’s continued for three and a half years.

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