Gov. Edwards seeks federal disaster declaration over COVID-19, locals react

Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 6:21 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -Governor John Bel Edwards says Louisiana is under so much stress because of COVID-19 that it deserves what is called a “Major Disaster Declaration” from the federal government.

"Quite sadly, the number of cases in Louisiana continues to rise more drastically than we would like,” Edwards said after making the formal request.

Edwards sent a 15-page letter to President Donald Trump. In it, Edwards wrote that, “The response to the spread of COVID-19 has overwhelmed the capabilities of state and local resources.”

Edwards discussed the request during an afternoon press briefing on the virus. "So I directed that request to President Trump, in order that we might receive additional support for state and local agencies as we continue to combat the spread of the virus and deal with all of those individuals who actually have the disease COVID-19,” Edwards stated.

Robert Collins, PHD, is a Dillard University political analyst who was not surprised by the governor’s request.

"The disaster declaration request from the governor was expected. The state of New York has already received a disaster declaration from the president,” said Collins.

Collins, who worked on Capitol Hill for two now former U.S. senators, discussed how such a declaration could benefit Louisiana. "It gives the state of Louisiana access to disaster funds from FEMA, it also relaxes certain regulations. It basically gives the governor more power to act unilaterally and to make decisions,” said Collins.

State Sen. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, said given what is occurring in Louisiana due to the dangerous virus federal help is warranted.

"Obviously, hopefully that will trigger some things in Washington, in terms of immediate help. Hopefully speed up some services and things that we need here in Louisiana, so obviously it was the next step, it was unfortunate step to have to take, but I'm glad he took that step,” Henry said.

He also voiced concern about how the virus is straining medical services and personnel.

"I'm concerned that our workforce in general is just going to get worn out. You're concerned for their health if they happen to contract it,” Henry said.

Collins believes the president will grant Louisiana’s request.

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