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Covington mayor declares State of Emergency; local order speeds City response to COVID-19 pandemic

Covington Mayor Joe Meyer declared a formal State of Emergency in Northern Kentucky’s largest city. The move is a legal maneuver that speeds the City’s ability to take actions to protect the public and mitigate the impact of the spreading coronavirus pandemic.


“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary steps,” the Mayor said. “This is not a normal disaster situation. This declaration will enable us to act more quickly and with flexibility and authority to serious needs and concerns related to the spreading COVID-19 crisis.”

City Manager David Johnston said the City’s declaration is also required for Covington to be reimbursed by federal agencies for disaster-related expenses incurred during this time.

Among other things, the order empowers the Mayor to waive procedures and formalities otherwise required by the law pertaining to:

• Performance of public work.

• Entering into contracts.

• Incurring obligations.

• Employment of permanent and temporary workers.

• Utilization of volunteer workers.

• Rental of equipment.

• Appropriation of public funds.

If necessary, the Mayor could also institute a curfew as a strategy to limit the spread of the highly contagious acute respiratory disease.

Specific changes would be implemented via executive order, and Mayor Meyer announced his intent to sign three specific executive orders in the days ahead:

• Appointing Assistant City Manager Bruce Applegate as the City’s coronavirus pandemic coordinator.

• Granting small businesses a 90-day grace period to pay tax obligations related to occupational license and net profits taxes, mimicking an announcement made by the IRS for individual taxpayers.

• And adjusting attendance protocols for Tuesday night City Commission meetings.

Details of those orders will be published via email and on the City’s website and social media as they are signed.

The emergency declaration will be in effect until rescinded.

As of today, more than 10,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and 150 have died. But the confirmed numbers are widely believed to be a fraction of the actual total (given the lack of ability to test sufferers), and the numbers are expected to increase exponentially in the coming weeks.

As pandemic coordinator, Applegate will serve as the point person for public agencies and others, and help sift through the tsunami of information, directives, and advice related to the virus.

“We need consistency for the interpretation of all these rules and information for staff, businesses, and residents,” Meyer said. “The City’s response really does have to be a collaborative effort so we act in a way that reduces confusion.”

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