President Donald Trump on March 25 approved a disaster declaration for the state of Florida, ordering federal assistance to help state and local recovery efforts amid the CCP virus pandemic.
The move comes just days after Florida governor Ron DeSantis asked Trump in a letter to declare the state a disaster area, saying the COVID-19 outbreak is having a “drastic effect” on Florida’s economy and medical providers.
His letter to the president released late Monday says Florida’s hospitals and first responders are facing challenges rarely experienced. DeSantis wrote that the state has already spent $208 million and its medical system is burdened.
DeSantis added that a survey of more than 6,600 businesses shows more than half have laid off employees, totaling more than 40,400 people. He also said requests for unemployment benefits have spiked to 130,000 in four days last week, compared to 28,000 for the entire previous week.
As of Wednesday evening, the state of Florida reported 1,977 cases of the CCP virus—including and 23 deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health. Confirmed infections rose by 510 from Tuesday.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
The declaration will make federal funding available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance for all areas in Florida impacted by COVID-19, the White House announced in a news release Wednesday.
It will also provide funding for crisis counseling for individuals impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak in the state, and for emergency protective measures.
The White House added that additional designations may be made in the future if requested by the state.
The president has also approved major disaster declarations for New York, California, Washington, Iowa, Louisiana, and Texas. The disaster declarations will allow federal funding for state and some local governments as well as certain private nonprofit organizations. The president has dubbed the declarations as of “legal significance.”
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 25, 2020
Responding to news of the declaration, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) thanked the president on Twitter.
“This will make available much needed resources in the war against #COVID2019. Thank you!” Rubio wrote.
Thank you, President @realDonaldTrump for approving Florida’s Disaster Declaration which will provide federal funds to help communities recover from the effects of #COVID19. We are prepared for the fight ahead and will come out stronger than ever before. pic.twitter.com/PJXdL687G2
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 25, 2020
DeSantis also thanked Trump, adding that the declaration will “provide federal funds to help communities recover from the effects of #COVID19.”
“We are prepared for the fight ahead and will come out stronger than ever before,” he tweeted.
Stay-at-Home Order ‘Inappropriate’
DeSantis said on Wednesday he won’t be ordering residents to stay at home because of the way the virus has spread in the state.
“There’s certain parts of the state where you have more sporadic cases,” the governor told reporters in Orlando. “To order someone not to be able to earn a paycheck when them going to work is not going to have any effect on what we’re doing with the virus, that is something that I think is inappropriate.”
The Trump administration supports the approach Florida is taking, DeSantis said. He also noted that counties and cities in southeast Florida, where the virus has spread extensively, have told residents to stay at home, including Miami Beach.
“I worked with them on that,” he said, adding that any local jurisdiction is free to issue a stay at home order.
Zachary Stieber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.