President Donald Trump said he is moving forward “very quickly” to approve California’s request for a State of Disaster declaration, along with aid that would include the activation of the National Guard, which would be paid for entirely by FEMA in an effort to relieve state budgets.
Along with that aid, the administration says it will build eight temporary medical facilities with 2,000 beds in California and send the USNS Mercy, the world’s largest hospital ship, to Los Angeles to aid hospitals as they expect a shortage in medical supplies and patient beds in the coming weeks. Similar facilities are also being planned for New York and Washington, two states also hit hard by the virus, with medical supplies coming along with those facilities.
While governors will be able to command National Guard forces in each state they are deployed to, the Trump administration says that FEMA will cover all costs. FEMA Chief Peter Gaynor insisted that the use of the National Guard in these states is “not martial law.”
The new federal aid comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter to the Trump Administration asking for it to grant requests for a State of Disaster declaration, saying that such a declaration would provide necessary resources including “mass care and emergency assistance, crisis counseling, disaster unemployment assistance, and disaster legal services.”
30 people have died so far in California from the coronavirus with over 1,600 confirmed cases, though the actual number of state residents who have contracted the disease is believed to be much higher as public health officials have not been able to perform enough tests to get an accurate count. Over 31,000 cases have been reported in the U.S. with 390 deaths.
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