WASHINGTON, DC — President Donald Trump declared Florida a major disaster area Wednesday as his adopted home state continues to battle the spread of the new coronavirus with 20 deaths and 1,682 confirmed cases.
"The president’s action makes federal funding available for crisis counseling for affected individuals in all areas in the State of Florida," the White House said in announcing the declaration. "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 Florida impacted by COVID-19."
More than half of Florida's cases have been concentrated in South Florida among Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties while 21 other counties in the state have not yet reported a single case of the new coronavirus. See 1,682 Florida Coronavirus Cases; State Lockdown Not Likely Yet
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on March 9 though the governor has been reticent to order a lockdown of the entire state since not all parts of the state have been affected equally by the crisis at this time.
DeSantis asked the president to declare major emergency in a March 22 letter.
"The state has currently allocated all available resources to the effort to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and is in direct support of response efforts, while experiencing significant impact to the economy of Florida," the governor's letter stated, noting the projected cost in services, materials and supplies amounts to $208,778,682, not including direct expenses of political subdivisions.
"Resources of local governments and supporting private entities are strained and financial resources that were reasonably expected to be at the state's disposal to respond are being affected by the impact to the economy of the state," the letter stated. "Business revenue and tax receipts are suffering and without supplemental federal assistance, the state's ability to sufficiently respond to and recover from this event will be severely impacted."
Administrator Pete Gaynor of the Federal Emergency Management Agency named Gracia B. Szczech to serve as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in affected areas of Florida.