President Donald Trump has approved a disaster declaration for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and ordered federal assistance to help with recovery in areas impacted by COVID-19.
The declaration approved on Friday makes federal funding available for crisis counseling for people and for commonwealth, tribal, and eligible local governments and some private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, the White House said.
Governor Charlie Baker said he submitted a request to the president through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for federal disaster assistance in response to COVID-19.
“The major disaster declaration would give support and flexibility to our communities as they respond to the COVID-19 outbreak,” Baker said in a press conference on Thursday.
Specifically, Baker told reporters Saturday his administration has been in conversation with the federal government regarding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers establishing “alternative care facilities.”
“I would expect that that in particular is going to be the thing that’s going to be the most important to us in the short term,” he said.
Access to the following programs will also be made possible by the declaration, according to a subsequent press release from the Baker-Polito Administration:
- Public Assistance Program: Affected local governments, state agencies and certain private non-profit organizations statewide will be reimbursed for 75% of their costs associated with response and emergency protective measures. The eligible emergency protective measures include non-congregate isolation and quarantine costs for homeless individuals and families, as well as first responders.
- Individual Assistance Program: Crisis Counseling Assistance will provide funding for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health to assist individuals and families in recovering from the psychological effects of the COVID-19 outbreak through electronic phone and chat technology.
Christopher Gavin contributed to this report.
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