President Donald Trump has activated the National Guard to fight the coronavirus in three U.S. states.
The Trump administration will tap federal resources to fund National Guard missions against COVID-19 in California, New York, and Washington, The Hill reported Sunday. The three states will remain in control of the National Guard troops, but will have the support of federal funding.
“We’re dealing also with other states,” Trump said at a press conference at the White House on Sunday, according to The Hill. “These states have been hit the hardest.”
Trump calls in the troops
As the coronavirus washes over the largely Democratic regions on the coasts, state leaders in places like New York have called on the federal government to help them replenish medical supplies and set up facilities to treat the sick. New York now has roughly half of all cases in the United States, with roughly 12,000 infections in New York City alone, according to the New York Post.
In response, President Trump said Sunday that he will direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help the National Guard in New York, California, and Washington outfit hospital stations. New York will get four stations with 1,000 hospital beds, while California will receive eight stations with 2,000 beds and Washington will see three small and three large stations and 1,000 beds, the president said, according to The Hill.
Two Navy hospital ships will harbor in California and New York, as well, Trump said.
The order is not a declaration of martial law, but rather, focuses on supporting state missions with federal dollars, according to CNBC.
“This action will give [state leaders] maximum flexibility to use the National Guard against the virus without having to worry about costs or liability and freeing up state resources to protect the health and safety of the people in their state,” the president said Sunday, according to UPI.
The president under pressure
The mobilization comes as Trump continues to face pressure from states to invoke his war powers to increase the production of medical supplies. Trump has demurred from using the Defense Production Act to take that step, but he said Sunday that the federal government will access its stockpiles to send thousands of supplies like respirators to the three states.
Meanwhile, Democrats like New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo have called on Trump to federalize the country’s supply chain behind fighting COVID-19 as a surge in cases threatens to overwhelm hospitals across the country. But Trump has said that he is counting on private, voluntary efforts from medical companies like 3M, which pledged to send 500,000 respirators to New York and Seattle on Sunday, as he pushes back against calls for “nationalization.”
It all comes as President Trump has appeared to question the wisdom of the sweeping lockdown orders given by Cuomo and others, which some worry may be setting up the country for an economic disaster. Trump said in a tweet Sunday that his administration will decide at the end of an ongoing 15-day period whether to ease up on restrictions on social life.
“We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” the president added.