Governor Ned Lamont announced on Tuesday that he was extending the Public Health Emergency that has been in effect since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension will remain in effect through June 28th of 2023 or until the federal emergency declaration expires.
The governor previously extended the state of emergency in June. As part of this most recent announcement, he also issued a directive to state agencies instructing them to use the state of emergency to apply for available federal funding.
“We need this declaration in place, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to access the federal support necessary for emergency food benefits and housing services that other states across the country are continuing to receive as a result of the pandemic,” Governor Lamont said in a statement. “By issuing this declaration, we are ensuring that this added support can continue for at least several more months.”
Among the funding provided by both the federal and state-level states of emergency is additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program dollars which are provided to all SNAP recipients. According to the governor’s office, the more than 220,000 Connecticut SNAP recipients have received an additional $929 million in benefits from the federal program since the start of the pandemic. It amounts to an average of $156.44 per household per month.
Additionally, Lamont’s office points to federal funds that have allowed the state to place nearly 7,000 unhoused people and those fleeing domestic violence into “non-congregate housing” during the pandemic.
“To protect public health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic it is necessary and beneficial to continue to provide non-congregate housing,” said Lamont in his letter to state agencies. “The Department of Housing has found during the pandemic that non-congregate shelters have had far fewer outbreaks of COVID-19 than traditional shelters. Continuing non-congregate sheltering under this public health emergency allows the State to protect the health and welfare of our most vulnerable residents.”
Continued states of emergency, however, are not universally supported. Across the country, 25 governors have signed on to a letter calling on the Biden Administration to end the federal emergency declaration. They say the emergency phase of the pandemic has ended and point to a bipartisan Senate resolution from November choosing to terminate the emergency.
The governors are asking that the Federal Public Health Emergency be allowed to expire in April of next year. The chief concern seems to be Medicaid, as states claim that the emergency declaration is “artificially growing out population covered under Medicaid, regardless of whether individuals continue to be eligible under the program.”
“This is costing states hundreds of millions of dollars,” they continue.