It is the first time a president has ever declared a major disaster in all 50 states at once, according to Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere.
The move comes as confirmed cases of the coronavirus reached at least 519,453 as of Saturday afternoon. At least 20,071 people have died in the U.S. due to the disease, a death toll surpassing the one in hard-hit Italy -- and a figure that has doubled, from 10,000 to more than 20,000, in just five days. Worldwide, confirmed cases have surpassed 1.75 million, and more than 100,000 people have died.
The entire country is now under a major disaster declaration for the coronavirus pandemic after the U.S. death toll reached the highest in the world on Saturday.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon formally sought the declaration on Thursday in a letter to the president. The state had seen more than 200 cases of the coronavirus at that time.
“Though Wyoming has not reached the dire situations of some states, this declaration will help us to prepare and mobilize resources when we need them,” Gordon said.
The declarations make federal funding available for state and local governments, as well as some nonprofit organizations, according to the White House. They can also help state governments coordinate with federal resources like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Army Corps of Engineers.
A Disaster Declaration is a formal statement by the jurisdiction’s chief public official (i.e. Mayor, County Judge, or Governor) that a disaster or emergency situation exceeds their response capabilitiesBecause Emergency Management in the United States takes a “bottom-up” approach to response, cities will proclaim a disaster declaration, followed by a county, then state, then the federal government. Once a disaster declaration is issued, it is promptly recorded into public record and disseminated to the general public.