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Administrative issues lead Bell County judge to reissue COVID-19 disaster declaration

Posted at 4:34 PM, Aug 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-13 18:24:51-04

Bell County Judge David Blackburn reissued a COVID-19 local disaster declaration on Friday.

This reinstates a previous disaster declaration that was announced on March 18, 2020, following Governor Greg Abbott’s proclamation for the State of Texas during the height of the pandemic.

The new declaration however is based on correspondence that leaves uncertainty as to whether a local declaration needs to be placed in order to seek funding, resources, and assistance for pandemic-related expenses in the county.

“The choice to once again declare a local disaster is based entirely on better insuring that Bell County, and city governments within Bell County, may all benefit from resources and reimbursements that would only be available to entities with active disaster declarations,” Judge Blackburn said. “It is simply an administrative measure.”

The initial disaster declaration was terminated this past June based on communications with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Texas Department of Emergency Management who stated the state-wide disaster declaration was sufficient in assisting with federal and state aid during the pandemic.

The reissued disaster declaration will be discussed on Monday, Aug. 16, during a Bell County Commissioners Court meeting; as the County Judge is allowed to issue disaster declarations but the Commissioners Court must review and approve as well.