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First Coast

DeSantis Requests Major Disaster Declaration For Florida

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John Raoux
/
Associated Press
Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks during a press conference at a coronavirus mobile testing site Monday, March 23, 2020, in The Villages.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking President Donald Trump to declare Florida a Major Disaster as the state responds to COVID-19.

The five-page letter plus application form is requesting federal help that would include:

  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance
  • Crisis Counseling
  • Community Disaster Loans
  • Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program

The governor submitted the Major Disaster Declaration request, citing the state’s response in all 67 Florida counties to COVID-19.
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The governor said the virus has already had a "signficant impact" on Florida's economy, writing in the letter that current projections show state coordination and response actions total nearly $209 million. He said that number doesn't include the direct expenses of local governments or businesses.  
The governor cited Florida's allocation of $50 million for an Emergency Bridge Loan Program that will provide interest-free, short-term loans to small businesses.

He also pointed out due to the drop in business that 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.

DeSantis cited Florida's "large elderly population," saying people 65 and older make up roughly 20.5% of Florida's population as another reason to grant the declaration, writing, "it is extremely likely COVID-19 will continue to spread and impact the elderly population statewide."

The declaration request also calls for more resources and support from FEMA.