March 25, 2020

Maryland Delegation Asks President Trump to Fast-Track Approval of Statewide Disaster Declaration for COVID-19 Pandemic

“We agree with Governor Hogan that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response and recovery is beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected local governments … supplementary federal assistance is required.”

The full Maryland congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Andy Harris, M.D., Anthony G. Brown, Jamie B. Raskin and David Trone, is urging President Donald Trump to swiftly approve Governor Larry Hogan’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Maryland as a result of the impacts of the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19). Team Maryland has been working closely with state officials to deliver critical federal resources for Marylanders during this public health crisis. Yesterday, the delegation asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide needed support to utilize the Maryland Convention Center as a temporary federal medical station, adding 300 beds and 1096 ventilators to Maryland’s available resources.

White House approval of a statewide disaster declaration is necessary to assure Maryland’s eligibility for emergency funding reimbursed through FEMA under the Stafford Act.

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear President Trump:

We write as the Maryland Congressional Delegation in strong support of the March 24, 2020, request for an expedited major Disaster Declaration for the State of Maryland as a result of the impacts of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).  We agree that the federal government must immediately bring the full weight of its resources to bear under the Stafford Act to protect Marylanders during this public health crisis.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency on January 31, 2020, and you declared a National Emergency on March 13, 2020.

Governor Hogan has certified that he has taken appropriate response actions under Maryland State law and directed execution of the State of Maryland’s Consequence Management Operations Plan, pursuant to the Stafford Act.  He further declared a State of Emergency on March 5, 2020, activated the State Emergency Operations Center and Maryland National Guard, issued numerous executive orders, and directed all state agencies to respond to and mitigate the threat posed by COVID-19.

The Maryland General Assembly provided and authorized the use of additional funds, and state and local governments have closely coordinated with each other and surrounding jurisdictions in regards to ongoing response and recovery operations.

In particular, we request the authorization of Stafford Act assistance under the Individual Assistance Program, including the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program; the Crisis Counseling and Assistance and Training program; and the Other Needs Assistance program under the Individuals and Households Program to fill gaps in disaster-related child care, medical, dental, and funeral expenses.  Additionally, we support federal Public Assistance, Category A, Debris Removal, as well as federal Public Assistance Category B, Emergency Protective Measures.

Maryland is already facing severe shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as respirators, gowns, gloves, and masks, and PPE and sanitizing products remain highly requested and are difficult to provide due to continuing shortages.  An increasing number of Maryland counties are requesting more infectious disease personnel such as nurses and other practitioners, along with more ventilators, monitoring equipment, hospital beds, testing kits, and tents.  At the same time, personnel resources are being exhausted, due in part to burnout, illness, and quarantine.

We agree with Governor Hogan that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response and recovery is beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected local governments, and that supplementary federal assistance is required.

Maryland continues to play a unique and critical role in the continuity of government of the United States as part of the National Capitol Region (NCR), given the many federal employees who work, live, and commute at federal agencies and facilities in Maryland and surrounding jurisdictions.  Federal assistance in this case would help preserve the continuity of government by protecting the health of all Marylanders, including those who are putting their lives on the line every day working to combat COVID-19 and safeguard the well-being of all Americans.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent request. We request an immediate response.