Hours after New York State announced more than 2,900 new cases of coronavirus Friday morning alone, President Donald Trump declared the state a major disaster area and began mobilizing the military to take over buildings and convert them to makeshift hospitals.
“Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of New York and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic,” a White House statement issued late Friday reads.
“The President’s action makes Federal funding available for Crisis Counseling for affected individuals in all areas in the State of New York. Federal funding is also 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 the State of New York impacted by COVID-19.”
The declaration comes amid a stunning uptick in cases throughout New York, with the state having declared more cases Friday morning than have been declared in total in any other state, including Washington, which as of Friday evening was up to 1,524 cases.
— Eunice Yoon (@onlyyoontv) March 21, 2020
Declared as state health officials have begun to warn that “the pandemic will quickly overwhelm the roughly 3,000 ICU beds empty at any given time and the estimated 5,000-6,000 ventilators on hand,” according to the New York Post, the emergency order has reportedly unlocked $42 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund.
“The declaration is typically ordered in the wake of natural disasters, like Hurricane Sandy or other major storms and flooding events,” the Post notes.
The declaration also comes amid New York City having been declared the “epicenter” of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.
NEW: Mayor Bill de Blasio announces 5,151 positive tests total for New York City which he says is a 1/3 of all cases in the U.S. calling NYC the “epicenter of the outbreak.”
29 people are dead.
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) March 20, 2020
NYC has 2.5% of the U.S. population
We have 26.5% of the total confirmed #covid19 cases in the nation.
We are the new epicenter.
We are pleading for more support from the federal gov’t. We need nat’l production of medical equipment and supplies and we need it NOW.
— Mark D. Levine (@MarkLevineNYC) March 19, 2020
Latest totals in NYC are astounding:
* total confirmed case: 5,683
* fatalities: 43
We are now the epicenter of #Coronavirus in the Western Hemisphere.
— Mark D. Levine (@MarkLevineNYC) March 21, 2020
Meanwhile, the U.S. military announced Friday that “it is preparing plans to take over hotels and other buildings if necessary to add to the nation’s supply of hospital rooms, part of its response to the coronavirus emergency,” as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
“The head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers outlined plans for taking over as many as 10,000 hotel rooms, college dormitories and other spaces in New York to provide medical services to accommodate the exponential increase of virus-related hospitalizations,” the Journal confirmed.
— Shelly-Ann Curran (@ShellyCurran) March 21, 2020
— Shepard Ambellas (@ShepardAmbellas) March 20, 2020
Army to deploy to #NewYork after #Trump declares major disaster
Troops to turn hotels and sports arenas into hospitals as lines form outside hospitals, ventilators run low & one person an hour dies in #CoronavirusPandemic pandemic in NYC https://t.co/4b6WOnBB4U pic.twitter.com/2JanyL6apO
— Washington News Line (@WashNewsLine) March 21, 2020
This mobilization of military sources comes as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered a complete statewide lockdown beginning Sunday evening at 8:00 pm.
“The governor announced Friday he will issue the ‘New York State on PAUSE’ executive order mandating that all residents remain home and indoors “to the greatest extent to protect physical and mental health,” Politico notes.
In the meantime, as word of the president’s declaration spread, for some inexplicable reason, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer rushed to take credit for it …
Pres. Trump just approved a major disaster declaration for New York to fight coronavirus.
Sen. @GillibrandNY and I pushed for this!
FEMA needs to get to work NOW to open these MANY billions in direct aid for New York and individuals to help save lives and protect public health.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 20, 2020
The move seemed odd, given as he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been the target of “progressive” ire this week over their refusal to join the president in offering cash payments to Americans suffering during the global coronavirus pandemic.
“If you’re a small business suddenly facing cash flow problems, we’d allow you to apply for low-interest loans and other forms of direct financial assistance that can offer relief quickly and allow you to overcome this problem and keep your business going in a healthy way,” Schumer said on the Senate floor earlier in the week.
This prompted “progressive” critics to ask, “How about zero interest loans?”
How about…zero interest loans?
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) March 18, 2020
WHY DO THE LOANS NEED TO BE HAVE INTEREST? WHY DO THEY NEED TO BE LOANS AT ALL? WHOSE TEAM ARE YOU ON?
— Kristin Chirico (@lolacoaster) March 18, 2020
It’s not acceptable to shut businesses down as a matter of health and then offer loans with interest when they “suddenly experience cash flow problems” bc of the shut down. Either suspend rent/mortgage payments, provide no-interest loans, or preferably both. It’s not complicated.
— Craig Goldstein (@cdgoldstein) March 18, 2020
Grants not loans. Automatic not bureaucratic.
— Zephyr Teachout (@ZephyrTeachout) March 18, 2020
The disaster declaration appears to actually be the brainchild of Gov. Chris Cuomo and a bipartisan, two-person coalition of House representatives
“New York’s congressional delegation is asking President Donald Trump to approve the state’s request for a major disaster declaration to address the coronavirus pandemic,” The Auburn Citizen reported Thursday.
“U.S. Reps. Anthony Brindisi and John Katko co-authored a letter to Trump asking for his administration’s support. The disaster declaration would allow for federal resources to be deployed to New York to assist the state’s response to COVID-19.”
Nowhere in the story was Schumer mentioned.
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