TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking President Donald Trump to declare a "major disaster" in the state due to the coronavirus pandemic.
DeSantis made the request in a letter, asking the Trump administration for funds to provide unemployment insurance, crisis counseling, community disaster loans and food for all 67 counties in Florida. The letter also asks for additional resources and support from FEMA.
The letter, dated Monday, March 23, says Florida is projected to spend approximately $208 million to fight the spread of COVID-19, and says the state has allocated all available resources to the response effort.
"Business revenue and tax receipts are suffering and without supplemental federal assistance, the state's ability to sufficiently respond to and recover from this event will be severely impacted," the letter reads.
It goes on to say Florida will be particularly impacted by COVID-19 due to the state's large elderly population, which is considered to be at higher risk for the virus.
"Hospitals, medical facilities, and first responders are facing challenges rarely experienced before," the letter continues. "The process of triaging and isolating potentially affected individuals is significantly disrupting lifesaving and life-sustaining services."
DeSantis' letter also points to a high amount of calls to the state's unemployment hotline, noting it received over 130,000 calls in the span of four days last week, compared to 28,000 calls for the entire previous week.
The governor is facing criticism for his decision to not issue a "shelter in place" order for the state. DeSantis said such a move would cause unnecessary financial hardship for those in counties with few or no known cases of the virus.
On Monday afternoon, Desantis issued an executive order requiring a mandatory 14-day self-isolation for anyone flying from the New York City area to Florida. New York has the most cases out of any other state in the country.
The governor said he is concerned about the number of daily flights from New York to Florida, saying he believes people may be fleeing the "shelter in place" order there.
Read the governor's full letter requesting a major disaster declaration below:
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If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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