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Trumbull County gets ahead with emergency declaration

Commissioners hope edict will bring in more state, federal funds

WARREN — Trumbull County commissioners said they declared a state of emergency here to better position the county and its communities to receive state or federal assistance for their COVID-19 responses.

“First it allows for broader local flexibility and authority in matters related to public health and safety dealing with COVID 19. Also the deceleration is a necessary first step in being able to access state and federal funding for reimbursement and implementation of those plans,” said Mauro Cantalamessa, county commissioner.

While neither the state nor federal government have formalized any assistance for individuals or local governments, Cantalamessa said departments are monitoring the county’s increased expenses in the meantime.

“It’s difficult to tell what assistance will be available. The federal government has passed some legislation relating to those affected more directly by COVID-19, but we still don’t know what the larger economic stimulus bill will look like. As far as the state is concerned, we’ve been in contact with all of our representatives documenting the cost of materials and labor that have gone above and beyond what was normally budgeted in hopes of relief on that front as well,” Cantalamessa said.

Several departments, “most notably” the criminal justice departments, have been “strained,” Cantalamessa said.

Commissioner Dan Polivka said the county committed $10,000 for personal protective gear that is being purchased through the Trumbull County Emergency Management Agency.

“We want extra PPE so we can get ahead of the curve,” Polivka said.

Staff and officials are looking for ways to bring resources to the county, Polivka said.

Commissioner Frank Fuda said the county still is getting things done with a limited staff — some are working from home, some are off sick — and limited hours.

“We can’t have people here sick. If they come in sick, we send them home. We asked anyone who is sick to stay home,” Fuda said.

Stressing the importance of following guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus, Fuda said the county enacted distancing and sanitization, and encouraged residents to follow the protocols, too.

“People have to realize they have to stay home. This is only going to get worse if they do not. I still see stores jam-packed with people. I wonder, ‘What they are thinking?’ Stay home; that is the only way to stop it. You can’t catch it if you stay at home. You don’t know who has it. We don’t even know how many people in Trumbull County have it because there are no testing kits,” Fuda said.

Fuda said the county declared the emergency not just to obtain future funding, but also to hammer home for county residents that the stay-home orders are serious.

“We want to get across to people: Stay home, unless it is something important,” Fuda said.

Polivka recommended wearing gloves during shopping or gas station fill-ups, and to remember that even if someone does not have symptoms of the illness, that doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t have it.

“Every day, things are changing. Be aware of what is going on. Try to stay calm. And remember, we all have to do our best to be in this together. Like President John F. Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,’ or county,” Polivka said.

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