All 50 States Are Under A Major Disaster Declaration For COVID-19

Disaster declarations are requested by state governors and approved by the president.
Posted at 2:16 PM, Apr 11, 2020

For the first time ever, all 50 states are under major disaster declarations at the same time — marking another unprecedented situation caused by the coronavirus. 

President Donald Trump has been gradually approving states' requests since March 20, when he declared the first coronavirus-related disaster in New York. Since then, he's approved requests in every state, Washington, D.C., and most U.S. territories. 

Disaster declarations are requested by state governors and approved by the president. They give states access to federal assistance programs that help them respond to and recover from whatever the disaster is. Usually, they're regional declarations in response to a natural event, like flooding, hurricanes or wildfires, and they're typically in effect for a defined set of time. 

But the coronavirus declarations are different. Not only are they active in all 50 states at the same time, but they also don't have clear end dates. Each state's approval notice says the disaster is in effect for areas impacted "by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic beginning on January 20, 2020, and continuing."

Beyond the 50 individual state declarations, there's also a national emergency declaration that President Trump issued on March 13. That allowed the White House to waive some federal regulations as part of its coronavirus response.