President Donald Trump said Sunday that a request by California for a State of Disaster declaration will be approved very quickly, “maybe by tonight.” He made the remarks during the White House’s daily briefing on the coronavirus battle.
The declaration, which has also been passed and applied in New York state and the state of Washington, taps into federal emergency funds to aid state efforts. It grants public officials with emergency powers to preserve life, property and public health. These can include holding individuals liable if they ignore evacuation requests and the temporary suspension of regulations and deadlines,
In California, an additional 2,000 beds will be added to the existing available numbers, with additional supplies arriving within 48 hours, Trump said. In addition, the USNS Mercy hospital ship will be deployed to Los Angeles to help with “emergency surge capacity.” Trump said. A similar ship, the Comfort, will be headed to New York City in the next few weeks.
The Dept. of Defense determined that the Mercy was deployed because the projected need for beds in California is five times more than the state of Washington. The ship will not be used for treating COVID-19 cases, but will instead aim to take the burden off hospitals for other cases, officials said.
The National Guard will be activated as well, and enables the Governor to support security efforts under state management. Eight large medical stations will also be deployed. “I want it to be understood that this is not martial law,” Vice President Mike Pence said.
The White House briefing also revealed that a new public/private consortium to unleash computing resources to help researchers in vaccines has been created, working with NIH and others. Partners include Amazon, Google, MIT, and more.