During a disaster, local, state, and federal governments can declare a state of emergency to free up emergency funding and waive certain regulatory requirements that can impede rapid response. The steps for issuing such a declaration are often complicated by differing laws at the various levels of government. Additionally, it is not always clear how jurisdictions receive crucial federal assets such as the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) or the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP).

In Arizona, our Division of Public Health Preparedness has taken steps to clear up this process by developing a Public Health Emergency Declaration Playbook. Arizona was one of seven states selected through a competitive process to participate in the National Governors Association’s Public Health Preparedness and Response Workshop. The purpose of this project was to support select states in developing strategic action plans to address systematic barriers that hamper response and recovery efforts. By developing this Playbook in consultation with executive and legislative leadership, ADHS has created a valuable tool to guide decision-makers through the public health emergency declaration process.

In addition to explaining how key federal assets can be requested and deployed, the Playbook outlines the differences between a traditional emergency declaration and a public health emergency. It also explains how waivers can be requested to assist the healthcare system during declared emergencies. This resource will be a key planning guide for our state when the next public health emergency comes along. I’d like to give a big thanks to our government partners and our Preparedness staff for taking the lead on this important initiative.