What Exactly Does a State of Emergency Mean?
On Saturday, March 7, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency surrounding Coronavirus concerns in New York State.
It can be scary and confusing to hear that your state is under a state of emergency, but there's really no need to panic. When a governor declares a state of emergency, it doesn't mean that the sky is falling. In most cases, the declaration simply sets things in motion to allow for additional help and funds should things get out of control.
"As we continue to provide essential updates and encourage people to act upon the facts on coronavirus instead of the hype, I have officially done a declaration of emergency which gives us certain powers to help local health departments that are very stressed," Governor Cuomo said. "As the local health departments continue to monitor and quarantine people, we have a more expedited purchasing protocol to get them all the tools they need to contain the virus spread."
Think of a State of Emergency as a cautionary game plan. You have a plan for what you would do and where you would go if something bad were to happen in your home or to your family, right? That's basically what a state of emergency is. A way to identify the problem at hand and to set things in motion to tackle whatever may or may not come before it gets out of control.
According to Governor Cuomo's office, a state of emergency allows (among other things):
- Expedited procurement of cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and other essential resources
- Allowing qualified professionals other than doctors and nurses to conduct testing
- Expedited procurement of testing supplies and equipment
- Expedited personnel onboarding
- Expedited leasing of lab space
- Allowing EMS personnel to transport patients to quarantine locations other than just hospitals
- Providing a clear basis for price gouging and enforcement investigation
By the way, a state of emergency does not mean that you can't drive or that you have to stay home unless explicitly specified and in that case, local government and media would be the ones to alert you to that.