President Donald Trump outlined Sunday the federal government’s plan to fund US National Guard units which were activated by governors in three of the states hardest hit by the novel coronavirus — New York, California and Washington state.
“And through (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the federal government will be funding 100% of the cost of deploying national guard units to carry out approved missions to stop the virus while those governors remain in command,” the President said at a White House briefing.
Trump described the federal government as a “backup” to the state leaders, underscoring the importance of keeping governors “in command.”
“We’ll be following them and we hope they can do the job and I think they will. I spoke with all three of the governors today, just a little while ago and they’re very happy with what we’re going to be doing.” Trump said.
The comments come as millions of people in a growing number of states face orders by their governors aimed at keeping them home to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
There are at least 32,149 cases of the novel coronavirus in the country, according to CNN Health’s tally of American cases that are detected and tested in the United States through US public health systems. At least 400 people have died.
Following Trump on Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence said that 254,000 Americans have been tested for the virus. He noted that those numbers do not include local hospitals or local labs that have conducted tests.
The White House news conference comes hours after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pleaded with Trump to nationalize the effort to acquire medical supplies at a time when state leaders say they’ve been forced to compete with one another for essential equipment.
“I think the federal government should order factories to manufacture masks, gowns, ventilators, the essential medical equipment that is going to make the difference between life and death,” Cuomo said earlier during a news conference Sunday.
“It’s not hard to make a mask or PPE (personal protective equipment) equipment or a gown, but you need companies to do it,” the New York governor said.
Trump approved a disaster declaration for California later Sunday night following previous declarations for New York and Washington state.
He said at the briefing that in addition to supplies, he had instructed FEMA to provide:
- Four large medical stations with 1,000 beds to New York
- Eight large federal medical stations with 2,000 beds for California
- Three small medical stations with 1,000 beds for Washington
The supplies should be in New York and California within the next 48 hours, Trump said.
He added there will be two naval hospital ships, one on the West Coast, and one on the East Coast, that will be activated. After some discussion, the USNS Mercy will be sent to Los Angeles and not Washington state.
The USNS Mercy will depart Naval Station San Diego on Monday with over 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff aboard, according to the US Navy.
This story has been updated to include information from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s news conference Sunday and information on the USNS Mercy’s departure.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the designation of the USNS Mercy as a non-commissioned ship.