President Trump Declares National State of Emergency Over Coronavirus

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Friday that he is declaring the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, as Washington struggles with providing Americans with relief and officials race to slow the spread of the outbreak.

“To unleash the full power of the federal government through this effort today I am officially declaring a national emergency,” Trump said, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, senior officials, and business leaders.

Speaking from the Rose Garden, Trump said the emergency would open up $50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak.

Trump said he was also giving Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar emergency authorities to waive federal regulations and laws to give doctors and hospitals “flexibility” in treating patients.

Trump spoke as negotiations continue between the White House and Congress on an aid package, but there was no announcement of a breakthrough, as House Democrats prepare to vote on their own measure Friday.

What a State of Emergency Means

A nationwide State of Emergency moves to allow the government to enact an emergency plan amid situations deemed severe enough to require aid and resources. The president’s declaration is intended to remove constraints so that officials at state and local level can implement the necessary actions to do things like increase testing and provide increased flexibility to doctors and hospitals in treating patients.

Public-Private Partnership

He also announced a new public-private partnership to expand coronavirus testing capabilities, as his administration has come under fire for being too slow in making the test available. The partnership will include drive-thru testing in some locations and an online portal to screen those seeking to get tested. 

The president was joined by the CEOs of Walmart, Target, and CVS, who offered details on what the public-private partnership would entail and how it would benefit citizens in getting assistance in testing and treatment related to the coronavirus.

Still, Trump said that officials don’t want people taking the test unless they have certain symptoms. “It’s totally unnecessary,” Trump said. He added, “This will pass.”

Trump spoke as negotiations continue between the White House and Congress on an aid package, but there was no announcement of a breakthrough, as House Democrats prepare to vote on their own measure Friday.

COVID-19 has been officially declared a pandemic, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday.

For the latest updates go to: coronavirus.gov