Gov. Ron DeSantis asked President Donald Trump to declare Florida a disaster area, saying the coronavirus outbreak is having a “drastic effect” on the state's economy and medical providers.
DeSantis wrote in a letter to Trump released late Monday that Florida's “hospitals, medical facilities, and first responders are facing challenges rarely experienced before." and the state has already spent $208 million on related unemployment assistance, food stamps, disaster loans and mental health counseling.
Such a declaration would make Florida eligible for federal aid. This is no hurricane, but DeSantis wrote that the state's medical system is already burdened and the situation will get worse, with limited testing showing more than 1,400 people infected and 18 deaths.
“The process of triaging and isolating affected individuals is significantly disrupting lifesaving and life sustaining services," DeSantis wrote. "Additionally, the insufficient medical resources and capacities of medical facilities, and the already limited number of qualified medical personnel will only continue to rapidly deplete as the impacts of COVID-19 continue to spread.”
DeSantis added that a survey of more than 6,600 businesses shows more than half have laid off employees, totaling more than 40,400 people. He also said requests for unemployment benefits have spiked, to 130,000 in four days last week, compared to 28,000 for the entire previous week.
Trump has not yet acted on the request.