SACRAMENTO – President Donald Trump approved a request Sunday from Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a major disaster in California to help the state respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with “mass care,” emergency aid, unemployment assistance and disaster legal services, among others.
“Unfortunately, California has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” Newsom wrote to Trump. “Besides California being home to nearly 40 million people, which itself poses significant logistical issues few other states face, California partnered with the federal government in several extremely complex and challenging repatriation missions, which strained California’s resources and impacted California’s health care delivery system.”
Newsom noted in the letter that he has issued 10 executive orders in the last week to facilitate a quick response to the outbreak.
“Thank you for recognizing that without the additional resources requested, impacts will be felt throughout the nation, as well as around the world, and thank you for your concern and leadership during this difficult time in our state,” Newsom’s letter concluded.
The president said the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be shipping mobile hospital units to the state within the next 48 hours. California is in line to get eight of them for a total of 2,000 beds. New York and Washington states will get 1,000 beds each, he said.
And the Navy hospital ship Mercy, which is based in San Diego, will be deployed to Los Angeles, he said. The ship can be stationed in L.A. in “a week or less,” FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said. It would not be used to treat COVID-19 patients but will accept other patients in an attempt to relieve the burden on hospitals, Gaynor said.
Trump also announced that he has signed paperwork to have the federal government pay for National Guard deployments in California, New York and Washington.
The National Guard will remain under the control of state governments, but the federal government will cover the cost, as is typical in disaster scenarios.