President Trump declared a national emergency on Friday to help the country combat the coronavirus outbreak, announcing that he will invoke the Stafford Act that would quickly free up access to up to $50 billions in financial assistance to fight the pandemic.
“To unleash the full power of the federal government … I am officially declaring a national emergency,” Trump said in an address from the White House Rose Garden. “Two very big words. The action I am taking will open up access to up to $50 billion…and a large amount of money for states, territories and localities.”
By making the emergency declaration, Trump will allow FEMA to tap into more than $40 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund to help states combat the virus.
In this past week alone disruptions has rocked this nation, amid efforts to curb the transmission of the virus. Large public gatherings and sporting events were suspended for the season or postponed for a later opening, schools across the nation are shutting down for a short period of time and businesses are instituted telework policies.
“We have to make short term sacrifices which will produce long term gains,” Trump said, praising the cancellation of national sporting leagues as having done “a great service.”
“We’re with you every step of the way. No nation is more prepared or more equipped to face this, as you know,” Trump added. “With faith and heart and hope, we will succeed and we will prevail. We will be very, very successful and learn for the future.”
He also said he would allow Health and Human Services to waive certain regulations and laws to more quickly deliver testing and care for coronavirus patients. Trump said up to half a million tests would be available early next week, and said a list of locations would probably be announced on Sunday night. He said 5 million tests would be available by next month.
“We are announcing a new partnership with the private sector to vastly increase and accelerate our capacity to test for the coronavirus,” Trump said. “We want people to take a test quickly if they need. But we don’t want people to take the test if we feel they shouldn’t be doing it.”
“No resource will be spared,” Trump said.
He asked hospitals across the nation to activate their “emergency preparedness plans.” This would allow HHS Secretary Alexander Azar to waive “provisions of applicable laws and regulations” to give medical professionals and hospitals the “flexibility” to care for all patients.
Trump said drive-through test locations would be established in certain critical locations, with help from Google. The Trump administration has partnered with pharmacies and retailers to make drive-through tests available in “critical locations” identified by public health professionals.
“The goal is for individuals to be able to drive up and be swabbed without having to leave your car,” Trump said, thanking Google for working to creating a website “very quickly” unlike “websites in the past” to help implement the drive-through test taking technology.
“Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now,” Trump said.
Since 1976, every U.S. president has declared at a national emergency. Former President Obama declared an emergency in 2009 over the H1N1 influenza pandemic while former President George W. Bush declared two national emergencies in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.
The president also said he will “most likely” get tested himself, amid coming into contact with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Dow Jones surged by 1.985 points in the final hour of trading, recouping most of Thursday’s losses as President Trump declared a national emergency.