Gavin Newsom

President Trump Approves Major Disaster Declaration for California

In this March 21, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, DC.
Patrick Semansky/AP

President Donald Trump approved Governor Gavin Newsom's request Sunday to declare a major disaster in California and bolster California’s COVID-19 emergency response efforts.

The Major Disaster Declaration makes federal funding available to state, tribal and local governments for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance.

"Based on what we know already, COVID-19 is an unprecedented global crisis and its impact in California is already severe and likely to worsen," Newsom wrote to Trump.

Newsom included information about California's emergency response efforts including its 22 public health laboratories working on coronavirus diagnostics. Combined with private and commercial labs, about 25,200 COVID-19 tests have been conducted as of March 22 -- 12,700 are still pending.

"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 healthcare delivery system," he wrote.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said federal emergency aid has been made available for California to support state, tribal and local municipalities in their recovery efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal funding will be available for crisis counseling for affected individuals throughout the state, a press release said.

Funding is also available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures such as direct federal assistance -- the federal cost-share is 75%.

"The declaration will supplement our state’s comprehensive COVID-19 surge planning and make vital resources available. We appreciate the quick response and partnership from the White House," Newsom said.

Robert J. Fenton, the appointed Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations, said additional designations could be made at a later date if requested by the state.

Also, a San Diego-based U.S. Navy hospital ship is going to Los Angeles to provide extra support amid the area's surge of coronavirus patients, President Trump said.

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