US President Donald Trump said on Sunday night that he has directed FEMA to send emergency assistance to New York, California and Washington. These three states are suffering from the highest number of coronavirus patients in America."I directed FEMA to supply four large federal medical stations with 1,000 beds for New York; eight large federal medical stations with 2,000 beds for California; and three large federal medical stations and four small federal medical stations with 1,000 beds for the State of Washington" the president said during the daily press conference at the White House. "The supplies will be delivered within the next 48 hours. We are at war, and we are fighting an invisible enemy."
Trump also ordered the activation of US National Guard units for these three states. "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, adding that the USNS hospital ship Mercy would be deployed to Los Angeles, while the USNS Comfort will dock in NY in some three to four weeks due to maintenance work.
Vice President Mike Pence said during the press conference that on Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would release new guidelines that would allow law enforcement and other workers in critical infrastructure who were exposed to the coronavirus to return to work wearing a mask for a certain period of time.
Trump said that he is open to helping many countries, including North Korea and Iran, specifically regarding a new, fast coronavirus kit test that the US is developing. "If they need help, we will give them help," the president said.
Tonight's press conference took place as a growing number of communities across the US issued "shelter in place" orders. Overnight, Ohio's governor Mike DeWine ordered people to stay at home except for essential activities, such as grocery shopping. Louisiana issued a statewide "stay at home" order, and the Dallas County of Texas issued a similar directive, bringing the number of Americans who are asked not to leave their homes to nearly a third of the population. Earlier this week, New York and California issued similar declarations.
Cases nationwide have topped 32,000, with more than 415 dead, according to a Reuters tally.
In the US Senate, partisan disagreement blocked a massive coronavirus response bill from advancing, with Democrats saying the Republican measure focused too heavily on helping corporations. But Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said he believed differences could be overcome in the next 24 hours.
Ohio has 351 cases and three deaths, while Louisiana has 837 cases and 20 deaths, several in a senior-care facility. Louisiana has the third highest number of cases per capita and saw a 10-fold increase in cases in the past week, Governor John Bel Edwards said.
Ohio's order will go into effect at midnight EDT on Monday and stay in effect until April 6. Louisiana's order goes into effect at 5 p.m. CDT on Monday and lasts through April 12. Delaware's order starts at 8 a.m. EDT on Tuesday.Republican US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky on Sunday became the first member of the Senate to announce that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. At least two members of the House of Representatives previously said they tested positive.
The mayor of New York City, the epicenter of the nation's coronavirus epidemic, on Sunday described the outbreak as the biggest domestic crisis since the Great Depression and called for the US military to mobilize to help keep the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.
"If we don't get more ventilators in the next 10 days, people will die who don't have to die," said Mayor Bill de Blasio, as the nation's most populous city saw COVID-19 cases top 9,600 and deaths climb to 63.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged the federal government to take over acquisition of medical supplies so states do not have to compete with each other for desperately needed resources.Over the past week, the Trump administration has been pushing for aggressive steps to stem the economic hit, after Trump spent several weeks downplaying risks of the virus.Pence said that 254,000 Americans had been tested for the coronavirus and 10% were positive.