President Donald Trump has approveda major disaster declarationfor Massachusetts, allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide support for state and local efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The White House said the Friday order specifically "makes Federal funding available for Crisis Counseling for affected individuals in all areas in the State of Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Federal funding is also available to Commonwealth, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, for all areas in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts impacted by COVID-19."
Gov. Charlie Baker had said Thursday he had been seeking a disaster declaration, in particular because he was hoping for expanded unemployment assistance to help hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their jobs across the state. The White House announcement makes no mention of unemployment assistance, but notes that "additional designations may be made at a later date" as needed.
On Saturday Baker told reporters, "The biggest thing it's going to mean for us in the short term is access to support services that relate specifically to COVID-19. And the thing that we've been having the biggest conversation with the feds about is talking to the Army Corps [of Engineers] about setting up alternative care facilities." Baker said that will be the most important effort fo teh state "in the short term."