In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Grayson County commissioners unanimously extended the county’s disaster declaration Tuesday.

Leaders were quick to point out that nothing in their disaster declaration has anything to do with whether or not specific businesses are allowed to re-open or where or when people are allowed to gather.

The disaster declaration, Emergency Management Director Sarah Somers said, is to allow the county to continue to track requests for aid for the county and its smaller cities, to keep the Health Department on its task of tracking the virus and to help local governments prepare to request reimbursements for unexpected expenses due to the pandemic.

The county has always deferred to the Texas governor’s orders about social distancing, business closures and other such matters and will continue to do so.

Somers said her office, the Grayson County Auditor’s Office and many of the 16 cities in the county have so far tracked more than $400,000 in expenses due to the pandemic. There will be some money made available at some point in the future to recoup some of those costs, and all of the record keeping that is going on now is to help improve the county and local cities’ chances for getting some of that funding.

The disaster declaration has also allowed Somers’ office to help procure personal protective equipment and other supplies for local health care facilities from hospitals to care homes to hospices.

She said the county has received two good-sized shipments of those supplies so far but they are continuing to track the need going forward.

Somers and members of the commissioners court said they understand there is confusion among the general public about the difference between what is accomplished under the Governor’s orders and what is accomplished under the county’s declaration. For that reason, she said, her office is in constant contact with the state officials to seek clarification for local residents and business owners about what the governor’s orders mean locally.

Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said he will continue to bring the disaster declaration back before the court until the county has been able to seek all of the financial relief available based on the local needs during the pandemic. However, he said that has no impact on what local businesses will be allowed to do and when they will be allowed to do.

He stressed that the population of Grayson County has done a great job of protecting its most vulnerable members from this pandemic but people need to keep up the work of following good common sense guidelines going forward.

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