US FEMA prepping for possible coronavirus emergency declaration

18:50  02 march  2020
18:50  02 march  2020 Source:   nbcnews.com

Coronavirus Live Updates: Cases Rise in Italy and Iran, and Spread to Other Countries

  Coronavirus Live Updates: Cases Rise in Italy and Iran, and Spread to Other Countries New cases of the coronavirus popping up across Europe. Dozens of infections in Iran stoking fears about an uncontrolled spread in the Middle East. Global market jitters continuing after a steep slide. American health authorities warning that it was a matter of when, not if, the epidemic would reach the United States. A toxic political climate in Washington complicating the public health challenge. That worrying drumbeat frayed nerves across the world on Wednesday even as the pace of the outbreak seemed to be slowing in China.

Gallery by photo services

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is planning for the possibility that President Donald Trump could make an emergency declaration to bring in extra funds and personnel to assist the administration's coronavirus response, according to internal documents obtained by NBC News.

FEMA officials are preparing for an "infectious disease emergency declaration" by the president that would allow the agency to provide disaster relief funding to state and local governments, as well as federal assistance to support the coronavirus response, according to agency planning documents reviewed by NBC News.

The Trump administration would have to use the 1988 Stafford Act to enable FEMA to provide such disaster assistance. Emergency declarations are most often used in the event of natural disasters but can be used to help manage disease outbreaks.

"To me this is another indication that the president and the White House are finally aware of the gravity of the situation," said Michael Coen, a former FEMA chief of staff during the Obama Administration. "They need to consider all tools available to them and have contingencies for action."

"I actually find this reassuring," said Tim Manning, a former FEMA deputy administrator under Obama. "I hope this discussion has been happening continuously over the last couple of months."

Coronavirus death rate is 3.4%, World Health Organization says, Trump says 'hunch' tells him that's wrong

  Coronavirus death rate is 3.4%, World Health Organization says, Trump says 'hunch' tells him that's wrong The World Health Organization says the fatality rate for coronavirus is 3.4%. Citing a hunch, President Trump called it a "false" number.WASHINGTON – The World Health Organization reported this week that the death rate for the coronavirus increased to 3.4% and is more lethal than the flu, which kills tens of thousands of Americans each year.

An emergency declaration would allow FEMA to provide disaster medical assistance teams, mobile hospitals, and military transport, among other kinds of federal support, Manning said.

FEMA's disaster relief fund has a current balance of $34 billion, according to the latest agency update. "It's money that's sitting there and ready," said another former FEMA official, who declined to be identified.

FEMA spokesperson Lizzie Litzow said the agency is currently focused on supporting the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which separately declared a "public health emergency" on Jan. 31, allowing HHS to access funds and other resources to aid the government's virus response. "At this time, there isn't anything additional to the HHS public health emergency," Litzow said.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

It would not be the first time the federal government has used FEMA's resources to assist in a medical event.

In 2000, President Bill Clinton used a Stafford Act emergency declaration for outbreaks of the West Nile virus in New York and New Jersey, ordering up to $5 million in federal aid to supplement state efforts to combat the mosquito-borne virus.

Emergency declarations are distinct from "major disaster" declarations, which are more far-reaching and are typically used for hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters.

Coronavirus in N.Y.: Desperate for a Test, They Couldn’t Get One .
One woman in Harlem who wanted to be tested was told by health care workers not to worry.President Trump has proclaimed that anyone who wants to get a coronavirus test can. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has declared that the state should be testing 1,000 people a day.

Topical videos:

usr: 3
This is interesting!