President Donald Trump’s approval Sunday of a major disaster declaration for the state of Oregon will ultimately result in additional money to help the health care system and local businesses in Douglas and other Oregon counties, Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman said Monday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has announced that emergency aid will be available to Oregon, as well as local recovery efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The declaration backdates to the beginning of the disaster to Jan. 20, so that previous expenses related to the pandemic can be covered. Federal funding is available to state, tribal, and local governments, as well as some private nonprofit organizations.

Freeman said the federal declaration works in combination with the state of Oregon’s and Douglas County’s previous emergency declarations.

“It connects the dots. That means everybody is agreeing that this is an emergency,” he said.

And that makes the county eligible for some types of funds that will become available under the $2 trillion coronavirus relief and stimulus funding package approved by Congress and signed by the president last week.

The funding that will become available includes money for increased hospital capacity, and for the public health work that the Douglas Public Health Network is performing under contract with the county.

While she expressed gratitude to the administration, and said the declaration was an important first step, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the state still hopes for more.

“This is far from everything Oregon needs from the federal government to actively and effectively combat this crisis. We have a number of significant requests pending with the federal government, first and foremost Oregon’s request for more personal protective equipment from the national stockpile,” Brown said.

She said the state also seeks funds for child care assistance, crisis counseling, disaster case management, disaster legal services, and disaster unemployment assistance for state residents.

“This is an unprecedented public health crisis that demands a coordinated national response, backed by the full resources of the federal government,” Brown said. “I will continue to work with the White House and Oregon’s congressional delegation to fight for access to every tool available to keep Oregonians safe from COVID-19.”

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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