U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency over the fast-spreading coronavirus, opening the door to providing what he said was about $50 billion in federal aid to fight the disease.
An emergency or disaster declaration from the President frees up additional money and sets the Federal Emergency Management Agency in motion.A declaration puts FEMA, which is supporting the Health and Human Services Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for coronavirus response, in a position to be the coordinator.
"The center of gravity switches from HHS headquarters to FEMA," said Daniel Kaniewski, who previously served as deputy administrator for resilience at FEMA.
More federal funds will become available, as will supplies, personnel and any other support. FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor told lawmakers Wednesday that the agency's warehouses are stocked with commodities across the country.
When activated, FEMA can help with logistics, like the transport of residents if needed, and put up temporary medical facilities. Those resources could come from across federal agencies, from stocked warehouses and through contracts. States will likely communicate what they need and where they need it.