President Donald Trump declared New York state a major disaster area on Friday over the rapidly worsening coronavirus outbreak in the state, specifically in New York City.
“Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of New York and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic beginning on January 20, 2020, and continuing,” the administration said in a statement. “The President’s action makes Federal funding available for Crisis Counseling for affected individuals in all areas in the State of New York.”
“Federal funding is also available to State, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, for all areas in the State of New York impacted by COVID-19,” the statement continued. “Pete Gaynor, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Seamus K. Leary as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.”
The announcement comes as New York City now has more confirmed cases of the coronavirus that originated in China than any other city or state in the U.S.
New York City Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio was widely criticized over his response to the outbreak, which was reportedly so bad that members of his staff threatened to quit if he did not start taking it seriously.
“There had been arguments and shouting matches between the mayor and some of his advisers; some top health officials had even threatened to resign if he refused to accept the need to close schools and businesses, according to several people familiar with the internal discussions,” The New York Times reported. “Teachers were threatening not to show up to school on Monday. A growing number of public health experts and politicians were calling for much of the city to be shut down to curb the spread of the virus.”
“On Sunday, the mayor was shown a graph depicting the sharp upward trajectory of the coronavirus epidemic curve, and another showing the capacity of the city’s health systems to handle the influx,” The Times added. “The information painted a disastrous picture of the days and weeks to come unless the mayor took immediate action.”
De Blasio was then widely criticized for not taking the situation seriously by going and working out.
“The Mayor’s actions today are inexcusable and reckless,” said his former adviser Rebecca Katz.
“It’s pathetic. Self-involved. Inexcusable,” former adviser Jonathan Rosen added.
De Blasio has been criticized for years for allegedly having a poor work ethic, which includes allegations that he naps in his office after arriving to work late every day from working out.
“Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daily exercise routine at a Brooklyn gym often leaves him too tuckered out to stay awake at City Hall, where he catches up on his shuteye by crashing on a couch in his office,” The New York Post reported in August 2017. “[De Blasio] regularly takes midday naps while everyone around him is busy at work, according to former aides with knowledge of the siestas.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.