President Donald Trump said Sunday he was approving major disaster declarations for California, New York and Washington, states he described as the “hardest hit” by the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus.
He also announced that the U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy will be headed to the port of Los Angeles with 1,000 hospital beds, which L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said would make it the largest single hospital in the city.
Dozens have died from COVID-19 in each of the three states. The declarations will provide them with aid funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency including the response of National Guard troops.
The president announced the disaster declarations hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo publicly requested that the federal government intervene and take over the acquisition of crucial medical supplies like face masks and ventilators.
“I’m trying to buy masks — I’m competing with California, Illinois and Florida, and that’s not the way it should be honestly,” Gov. Cuomo said earlier Sunday.
The disaster relief requests from Washington and New York were already approved and California’s request was expected to be approved later Sunday, Trump said.
“We’ll have it approved very quickly,” Trump said.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom penned a letter to Trump Sunday requesting the major disaster declaration, his office announced.
Newsom’s office said the declaration would provide the state with “mass care and emergency assistance, crisis counseling, disaster unemployment assistance, disaster legal services” among other resources.
Trump said eight “large federal medical stations” with 2,000 hospital beds would be among the emergency federal assistance being provided to California.
The supplies should arrive in California within the next 48 hours, Trump said.
Each of the three governors will be charged with commanding the National Guard in their states, Trump said.
“These states do need more help because they are hit very hard,” Trump said.
Earlier, Cuomo told reporters New York was expecting an “overwhelmed” health system as COVID-19-related deaths continue to rise.
With more than 15,000 confirmed cases as of Sunday, the New York Times reported the state had about 5% of cases worldwide at the time.
“Right now, the curve suggests we could need 110,000 hospital beds, and that’s obviously a problem,” Cuomo said.
KTLA’s Brian Day contributed to this report.