President Donald Trump has approved Minnesota's request for a federal Major Disaster declaration in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Gov. Tim Walz had requested the declaration from the president, with Minnesota having previously been under federal "Major Emergency" status.
By expanding Minnesota to a "Major Disaster," Gov. Walz and Minnesota Homeland Security director Joe Kelly says the state can be reimbursed by the federal government for the expansion of community-based crisis counseling services.
Per the update from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Minnesota's state, tribal, eligible local governments, and private nonprofit organizations can get "emergency protective measures" reimbursed at a federal cost-share of 75 percent.
James K. Joseph, regional administrator for FEMA, has been named federal coordinating officer for "federal recovery operations" in Minnesota.
Gov. Walz said on Sunday that a declaration would also help alleviate the novel coronavirus pandemic's impact on public health, state resources, unemployment, and healthcare facilities, among other community infrastructure.
“The State of Minnesota responded quickly to this public health disaster and continues to do so to the fullest extent possible,” Gov. Walz wrote, adding in a letter to the president that without assistance from the federal government Minnesota's "ability to respond to and recover from this event will be severely impacted."