BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - On Tuesday, March 24, President Donald Trump declared a major disaster exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered federal assistance. This will help with local recovery efforts in areas impacted by COVID-19.
The president’s action makes federal funding available for crisis counseling for affected individuals in all of Louisiana. In a tweet, Governor John Bel Edwards said, “I am very appreciative of the federal government’s expeditious approval of Louisiana’s request and their support throughout our response.”
The state’s number of cases grew faster in the first 14 days than anywhere else in the world, according to data compiled by an economist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The declaration will allow the federal government to provide additional support for state and local agencies in dealing with this growing public health threat.
“It is still impossible to know exactly how long the COVID-19 pandemic will impact Louisiana, but what we do know is that we have more cases per capita than every state, except for New York and Washington. Sadly, 34 people have died in Louisiana and our case count continues to rise, which is why we need additional federal aid,” said Gov. Edwards.
“We have overwhelmed our stocks of key resources needed for our hospitals, first responders and emergency managers. There will be a long-lasting impact on the state of Louisiana, and we have taken aggressive mitigation measures to fight the spread of COVID-19. I have been appreciative of the support of the federal government, especially Vice President Mike Pence’s COVID-19 task force, and I am hopeful FEMA will quickly approve our request as we continue our response and work towards recovery.”
Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) announced a $31 million FEMA grant to the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness in response to the coronavirus.
“The federal and state governments are committed to doing whatever it takes to protect local communities from the coronavirus—and to doing it quickly. This $31 million grant could increase medical services and supplies for Louisiana communities in order to slow the spread of this disease and care for those affected by the virus,” said Kennedy.
President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13 to protect public health and safety in response to the coronavirus. The grant comes under the authority of the Stafford Act. It could be used to support emergency protective measures, including emergency medical care, medical sheltering, general health communications and the distribution of supplies.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $2,218,045 to 36 health centers in Louisiana. Health center recipients in Louisiana may use these awards to address screening and testing needs, acquire medical supplies and boost their telehealth capacity.
Gov. Edwards previously issued a Public Health Emergency on March 11 in response to the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana.