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National Guard activated in California, New York and Washington to help combat COVID-19

Task force to provide update on COVID-19 response as Congress continues aid negotiations
Posted at 1:13 PM, Mar 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-22 19:01:43-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump announced Sunday that the National Guard has been “activated” in New York, California and Washington state to help the three states hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

Trump made the announcement during Sunday’s coronavirus task force briefing, adding that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be covering the cost.

A FEMA official at the briefing said that both New York and Washington have already been approved for major disaster declarations to allow the federal government to more seamlessly provide supplies. California’s request is being considered.

Trump also said that the Navy hospital ship Mercy will be dispatched to Los Angeles to help to help relieve the state’s overwhelmed hospitals. Non-coronavirus patients will be treated on board. A similar ship is being sent to New York City.

The FEMA official said the projected need for hospital beds in California is five times greater than it is in Washington.

Watch the press conference below:

The White House briefing comes as Congress and the Trump administration continue negotiations over a ballooning nearly $1.4 trillion economic rescue package to steady the nation in crisis.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has indicated a deal is within reach, but congressional Democratic leaders raised concerns after a meeting Sunday at the Capitol.

With a population on edge, societal norms rewritten and financial markets teetering, all sides were hoping for an agreement that would provide some relief against the pandemic's twin health and economic crises, now believed likely to stretch for several months.

The package could include aid to last the next 10 weeks. Mnuchin told “Fox News Sunday” that there is a “fundamental understanding” reached with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to provide significant aid.

According to Mnuchin, the deal includes federal loans to small businesses so they can retain their workers; cash payments averaging $3,000 for a family of four as well as “enhanced” unemployment insurance.

The package also will allow the Federal Reserve to leverage up to $4 trillion of liquidity to support the nation’s economy, while hospitals will get “approximately” $110 billion to address a crush of people infected with the virus.

Mnuchin says President Donald Trump has “every expectation” the aid package will help workers and the economy improve “four or eight weeks from now,” but if the virus is still raging after 10 weeks, “we’ll go back to Congress again.”

Mnuchin says he expects a Senate vote on the deal on Monday morning.

Meanwhile, the total number of confirmed cases in the U.S. has exceeded 32,000 and at least 400 people have died in the country as a result of COVID-19, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The tally shows 32 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. have all reported deaths.

Worldwide, Johns Hopkins says over 329,000 cases have been reported, with over 14,300 deaths. Italy's death toll is the highest with at least 4,825.

Click here to learn more about COVID-19 and how to prevent the spread of the virus.