President Donald Trump has made his first major disaster declaration of the coronavirus epidemic, releasing federal emergency aid to New York, a state that has seven times more confirmed cases of the virus that causes COVID-19 than the next leading state.
The move — which had been sought for aggresively by U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand — will provide crisis counseling, while also making additional funding available to state, tribal and some local government, as well as some private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures.
In short, the federal government is senting in a team of counselors to help those affected by the coronavirus seek options and other help while they try to recover from the crisis. Emergency protective measures include helping the government save lives, protect public health and safety, and prevent damage to both property and public as well as the safety of others — all before, during and after a disaster, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Under Trump's order, Washington will assume 75 percent of the costs for these efforts, with New York taking the other 25 percent.
Trump made the move after confirmed cases in New York rose above 8,400 cases on Friday.
"With more and more cases confirmed in New York each day, it's imperative that the federal goverment does everythig within its power to support New York in the state effort to stem the spread of the deadliy coronavirus," Schumer said, in a statement. "We're at a vital point in the battle against the disease, and we need to do everything innour power to stop it, right here, right now. There is no compromise when it comes to the health and lives of New Yorkers, and I'm glad the administration recognized that and approved the nation's first major disaster declaration in response to the coronavirus, right here in New York."
The declaration now gives New York access to more than $42 billion in funds, Schumer said.
"All federal resources available must be used to help New York respond to the coronavirus outbreak," Gillibrand said, in a release. "I'm glad the administration is taking the health and safety of New Yorkers seriously by releasing additional funding to help our state respond."
Leading the FEMA effort in New York will be Seamus Leary, the former deputy commissioner of Orange County. He is a federal coordinating officer for FEMA Region II, which includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Native American tribal areas in the region.
This story was updated to include available funding numbers, as well as statements from New York's two senators.
Follow all the local coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and how it relates to your neighborhood at RiverdalePress.com/coronavirus. Sign up for our newsletter to get daily updates on coverage and closing by sending your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org. And finally, keep up with all the latest closures, postponements and what you can still take part in with our continuously updated list by clicking here.