FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers are still waiting on coronavirus orders from the Trump administration

Army Corps of Engineers.
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

"Key agencies" of the federal government have still "not been asked to play much of a role" in the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, The New York Times reports.

The White House has said it will use "the full power of the federal government" in the response to the pandemic, and on Tuesday, President Trump said the Army Corps of Engineers is "ready, willing, and able" should their assistance be "necessary." The Army Corps of Engineers, however, has not yet received orders.

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is prepared to assist the nation in a time of crisis to the very best of its capabilities, and we are postured to lean forward when an official request is received through the Department of Defense," an Army Corps spokesperson told the Times. "However, at this time, we have not been assigned a mission."

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has called for help from the Army Corps. In a recent Times op-ed, he wrote that "without immediate action, the imminent failure of hospital systems is all but certain," and "our best hope is to utilize the Army Corps of Engineers to leverage its expertise, equipment and people power to retrofit and equip existing facilities — like military bases or college dormitories — to serve as temporary medical centers."

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday he has given Cuomo his "full commitment that we would get the Corps of Engineers up there soonest," though it wasn't clear what specific instruction the Army Corps may have received.

Additionally, after Trump said "we are working closely and getting FEMA involved ... to a different level," the Times reports that as the Department of Health and Human Services has been put in charge of the federal response, FEMA is also "waiting for orders from the agency before it moves to ramp up assistance."

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