A local state of emergency has been declared for Gwinnett County through mid-April.
Gwinnett Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash issued the declaration shortly before the commission’s 10 a.m. work session Tuesday. The move authorizes the county to marshal its resources to help the county’s residents make it through the outbreak of the coronavirus disease known as COVID-19 as safely as possible.
It will remain in place until April 13.
“Based upon the President’s Declaration of National Emergency and the Governor’s Public Health State of Emergency, I believe it is in the best interest of the welfare of Gwinnett County and its residents to declare a local state of emergency to activate certain emergency powers under the Gwinnett County Emergency Management Ordinance,” Nash said.
As of noon Tuesday, there were seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Gwinnett County, and 146 cases statewide.
The outbreak lead to a somewhat unusual site at the Board of Commissioners’ work session and business meeting Tuesday: business was conducted with only two of the board’s members present in person.
Nash and Commission Vice-Chair Marlene Fosque attended the meetings in person while Commissioners Jace Brooks and Ben Ku participated by telephone.
Commissioner Tommy Hunter did not participate in the work session or the business meeting on Tuesday, either in person or by telephone.
During the afternoon business meeting, Nash addressed the declaration.
“That is intended, not to alarm people necessarily, but rather to give the county more flexibility in terms of how it conducts its business, so that we respond to the changing situations that we ... seem like to be facing multiple times a day because things happen very fluidly,” Nash said. “As part of our efforts to comply with what the state’s guidance the federal government’s guidance is about the gathering of people, we are canceling our (March 24) executive session and our 7 p.m. public hearing (on zoning matters).”
The declaration of local emergency authorizes Nash to take certain actions including:
♦ Suspend county laws governing how the county conducts business if they hinder the county’s ability to respond to the outbreak
♦ Utilize all county resources, including all agencies over which the county has budgetary control, to help Gwinnett co♦ pe with the outbreak
♦ Use county property to help cope with the pandemic when necessary
♦ Make temporary housing available for emergency shelters
♦ Suspend or limit the issuing, sale or dispensing of alcohol licenses, explosives and flammable substances and liquids
♦ Perform other functions deemed necessary to handle the outbreak
♦ “Provide benefits to citizens upon execution of an intergovernmental agreement for grants, if such are available, to meet COVID-19 related necessary expenses or serious needs of individuals or families adversely affected by COVID-19 in cases where the individuals or families are unable to meet the expenses or needs from other means, provided that such grants are authorized only when matching state or federal funds are available for such purposes.”