Trump Issues Major Disaster Declaration for California as Coronavirus Pandemic Intensifies
Monday, March 23, 2020
President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration for California on Sunday to help the state handle the economic and health consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The declaration will provide additional aid to the state, including food assistance and more financial help for people who have lost work or faced business losses because of the outbreak. It came hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter to Trump requesting the action.
Among other provisions, the declaration will allow people like business owners who do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance to apply for disaster unemployment insurance. Trump also approved Newsom’s earlier request to deploy the Navy medical ship Mercy to Los Angeles to help relieve strain on the hospitals there.
COVID-19 threatens to overwhelm California hospitals, and the measures to slow the disease’s spread have ground much of the state’s economy to a halt.
The pandemic comes on the heels of a spate of natural disasters over the past three years, including wildfires, earthquakes, and mudslides, which have each strained the household budgets of already vulnerable California families, Newsom wrote in the letter.
Newsom has mobilized essentially the entire state government, from the California Department of Education to the state Department of Food and Agriculture, to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. He has declared a state of emergency and issued a slew of executive actions, including shuttering nonessential businesses and ordering residents to stay home.
But, Newsom wrote, the state still needs more help.
“Despite the Herculean efforts to rapidly expand the capacity of California’s healthcare delivery system, there will without a doubt be extraordinary additional needs,” Newsom wrote. “It is clear additional resources are immediately necessary to adequately respond to the unmet needs of the people and businesses of California.”
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