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Schumer, other senators to ask Trump to issue national emergency declaration for coronavirus

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other senators are preparing a letter that will ask President Donald Trump to issue an emergency declaration for the coronavirus pandemic. Seen here, Schumer speaks after a luncheon on Capitol Hill January 14, 2020, in Washington, DC. By Lauren Fox and Chandelis Duster, CNN

(CNN) -- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other senators are preparing a letter that will ask President Donald Trump to issue an emergency declaration for the coronavirus pandemic.

An aide for Schumer told CNN Wednesday that the minority leader, along with Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Gary Peters of Michigan, will call for the formal declaration, which would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use more than $40 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund to assist local state government in their response to the coronavirus.

FEMA is providing support to state partners, providing them supplies such as gloves, hand sanitizers and masks, and working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Listen to the CNN Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction podcast with chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta here.

Last week, Trump signed a $8.3 billion response package to help combat the virus. The agreement provides $7.8 billion in appropriations to address the outbreak of coronavirus as well as an authorization for $500 million in mandatory spending to fund a telehealth program in an effort to expand access to health services for seniors.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared coronavirus a public health emergency in late January, which started the process of making it easier for states to redirect personnel whose salaries might be paid by the federal government.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance on quarantines to prevent the spread of the virus.

At least 17 states have declared emergencies, which allows them to waive certain regulations.

Previously, the Trump administration declared public health emergencies for the national opioid crisis and, in a more targeted way, for hurricanes and earthquakes that struck Puerto Rico, hurricanes in the Southeast and wildfires out West.

This story has been updated with additional background information.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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