Guam among 12 US jurisdictions still under Covid emergency orders
Updated: Oct 13, 2022
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Guam is the company of eight states and three other U.S. territories where Covid-19 emergency orders remain actively in place despite President Joe Biden’s recent declaration that "the pandemic is over.”
While announcing that Guam is at a low level of community risk, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has extended the public health emergency through Nov. 5.
The 36th Guam Legislature failed to override Leon Guerrero’s veto of Bill 11-36, titled “Separation of Powers Act,” which would have required a legislative review of the governor's extension of her emergency powers.
“Public health emergency response measures have been significantly condensed to provide services broadly accepted as necessary even in our current low risk level, and which our community continues to rely on every day,” the governor said.
Sen. James Moylan, one of the authors of the vetoed Republican bill, expressed disappointment over the failed attempt to override the governor's veto of Bill 11-36.
“It is evidently clear why the governor wants to maintain the public health emergency, and it has more to do with the unprecedented authority she is provided,” Moylan said. “Sadly, Bill 11-36 could have prevented the abuse, but so much for that at this time.”
Former Gov. Felix Camacho, who is running for the governor again, said the continuation of public health emergency has ceased to be a health emergency response and become more of a “political response.”
“The reality of it is that the governor still keeps us in a state of emergency to milk the system," Camacho said at a forum hosted by the Guam Association of Realtors.
“We have to understand that the governor has a tremendous amount of authority and power when it comes to procurement, moving of resources and the moving of personnel and she said that we have no say. Well definitely, the legislature has had no say. The Republicans have tried to make a change but it didn’t happen,” he added.
As the Covid-19 pandemic recedes as a major public health crisis, the federal health emergency is set to expire on Oct. 13.
Besides Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and Puerto Rico have retained their emergency orders until November.
Rhode Island’s emergency declaration ends on Oct. 12, while California's and Delaware’s will expire on Oct. 13, and Illinois on Oct. 17 .
Washington will remain in a state of emergency until Oct. 31; Texas, Nov. 1; and Connecticut, Dec. 28. Kansas’s emergency continues through January 2023, while the expiration date for West Virginia is not currently available.
States first declared public emergencies in March 2020 and governors kept renewing them until around the spring of 2022, when the pandemic subsided after an omicron-driven surge.
Across the U.S., state and territorial governors were criticized for their prolonged emergency powers.
Some jurisdictions have extended their emergency declarations to be able to continue receiving emergency allotments for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.