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Yap issues third emergency declaration in response to Covid-19 pandemic

Regional News
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COLONIA, Yap (Yap State Government) — Due to the expiration of the second Declaration of a State of Emergency decree on May 27, 2020, Yap State Gov. Henry S. Falan issued a third Emergency Declaration on June 1, 2020 that is retroactive to May 28 and continues to place the entire state under a state of public health emergency in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“The four FSM states are among only 12 countries that have reported no confirmed cases,” said Governor Falan, “It is critical that our border and port of entries continue to be locked and monitored very closely. The issuance of this third declaration is imperative given the ongoing threat of the pandemic in other countries.” 

As the lead agency, the Yap State Department of Health Services is coordinating the response to address the crisis, and the Yap Health Crisis Task Force is designated to work in conjunction with DHS in combating it. They are using the Yap Covid-19 Contingency Plan, the Covid-19 Yap State Action Plan, and the Yap State Emergency Response and Preparedness Plan to direct their initiatives. According to the declaration, they are also tasked to work together to promote public awareness about the crisis and preventive measures; conduct ongoing assessments of the crisis; provide regular updates to the state leadership on the status of the crisis; record the state resources used in response to the crisis; and “other tasks as required to adequately respond to the crisis.”

The DHS and taskforce are also authorized by the declaration “to obtain technical and/or financial assistance from the public, private and non-profit sectors.” The governor may access state-appropriated funds to mitigate the crisis according to the state constitution, as well. “From the beginning of the pandemic to now,” he noted in the new declaration, “our state has been blessed with funding assistance from abroad and we have not had to use any state funding so far.” The declaration goes on to state that, in accordance with the constitution during an emergency, the “State Government, Agency and the Taskforce may continue to receive and utilize funding assistance sourced from abroad, most especially the United States Office of Insular Affairs, through JEMCO, to combat the pandemic, from national, regional and international governments and organizations.”

In addition to outside funding, the DHS and Taskforce have applied for grants and received donations of lab equipment, test kits, personal protective equipment, oxygen tanks, respirators, ventilators and other important apparatuses through the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the US Embassy and other sources. Vendors are vetted with the CDC and WHO. Training and equipment setup are provided by the manufacturers and recommended consultants.

Other provisions in the declaration state that the governor “in his performance of his role....is empowered to make decisions and exercise his discretion on any issue relevant to” quarantine, border, security, government, funding, business and economy, restrictions on movement, orders and directives, and “other matters deemed necessary.”

“The DHS and taskforce have been adamant in my meetings with them that we must maintain the emergency declaration,” said Governor Falan. “I have assured them that I will not open our borders or let down the guard in any other way until they tell me that they are ready. I cannot adequately express my deep respect and admiration for the work they are doing to prevent, prepare and respond to this devastating disease on behalf of the people of Yap. They have my greatest admiration for their dedication and personal sacrifice in the face of this storm. We know how to deal with a typhoon, but this is a very different type of tempest that we have never experienced in our lifetime.”

A legal action filed against Governor Falan by the 10th Yap State Legislature in response to his prior emergency declaration is ongoing. Speaker Vincent Figir filed a Petition of Declaratory Judgement on May 20, 2020 after that legislative body issued a resolution revoking the second declaration based on their determination “that the efforts undertaken...has [sic] adequately addressed the emergency posed by Covid-19 to the State of Yap and found there was no basis for extending the declaration.” The petition requests “a declaratory judgement on the interpretation of certain provisions of the Yap State Constitution.” The governor has 30 days to respond.

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