President Donald Trump on Saturday approved Colorado’s expedited request for a major disaster declaration, a move that will free up more federal money as the state reckons with a public health crisis unlike any in its recent history.
“Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Colorado,” the White House said in a statement early Saturday evening.
Gov. Jared Polis requested the declaration Wednesday, and most members of the state’s congressional delegation urged the president to approve the declaration in a letter Thursday. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Windsor, did not sign the letter.
“We agree with Governor Polis that this outbreak is of such severity and magnitude that effective response and recovery is beyond the capabilities of the state, tribal governments and affected local governments alone,” wrote the eight Coloradans in Congress, noting that “Colorado has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 cases per capita” among U.S. states.
The declaration allows the state and tribes, along with some local governments and nonprofits, to receive federal money to help them deal with coronavirus. Affected Coloradans are now eligible for crisis counseling assistance as well.
“This declaration ensures that Colorado can be on a level playing field with other states that already have this status, like New York and Washington, when it comes to federal disaster funding and Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance,” Polis said on Saturday.
State and federal officials hope the declaration will alleviate Colorado’s shortage of personal protective equipment, such as respirators, gowns, gloves, masks and sanitary equipment.
“We are forging new and innovating partnerships daily with the federal government and the private sector to minimize the health threat and the economic threat of the virus,” the governor said Saturday.
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