Correction: A previous version of this story referenced an order from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment which has been extended. That order is independent from the disaster declaration and any action that could be taken by the governor.
DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis extended the COVID-19 disaster declaration in the state back in August, which allows the state to be nimble in responding to the pandemic and access state and federal funds for combating the virus.
That order was set to expire on Sept. 16.
The order states, “Together, these directives ensure agency access to State and federal funding, enable the State to continue COVID-19 response and recovery activities, and ensure the State can execute rapid procurement processes when needed to respond to the changing COVID-19 environment due to variants and stressors on our health care system.”
A spokesperson for the governor’s office said, “The Recovery Order is in place primarily to suspend the Medicaid eligibility statutes, which is needed for Colorado to continue to access additional federal Medicaid funding for eligibility which provides healthcare to 200,000 Coloradans.”
“We are still under the disaster declaration here in CO for expanded Medicaid eligibility – without the EO, we would be back to statutory eligibility under CO law which is more narrow than what the federal government currently allows during the pandemic,” the spokesperson said.
Colorado is not the last state in the country with some type of active COVID-19 emergency order in place, but it is in the minority in this stage of the pandemic.
The National Academy for State Health Policy tracks public health orders in all 50 states across the country. While the group lists 14 states that still have public health orders in effect outlining some degree of state emergency, a handful of those orders have already expired.
Colorado is one of 10 states with orders still in effect. Five states, including Colorado, will have public health emergencies expire in the month of September, according to NASHP.
Just because a public health emergency is set to expire doesn’t mean it can’t be extended or brought back. Polis ended all COVID-19 emergency health orders in July 2021 but signed further executive orders to focus on Colorado’s recovery, extending the public health emergency. It came at a time when cases were at a relative all-time low, after the first wave of vaccinations.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee recently announced the state’s emergency order will expire at the end of October.
“The Governor is reviewing the current order and conditions in the State and will determine next week whether to extend the EO again,” the spokesperson said in a statement to FOX31.