President Trump declared a national emergency on Friday afternoon from a press conference that took place at the White House’s Rose Garden. This move gives him the authority to use billions of dollars allocated by Congress for disaster relief to address the coronavirus crisis.
“I am officially declaring a national emergency: two very big words,” he said.
According to The New York Times, there are more than 1,700 cases of coronavirus in the U.S. The numbers may not be accurate, as many Americans have not been tested. The Times also reports that the death toll in the U.S. is now at 41.
President Trump said he was waiving regulations to allow hospitals to “do as they want. They could do what they have to do. Emergency orders I’m issuing today will also confer broad new authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Secretary of HHS will be able to immediately wave revisions of applicable laws and regulations to give doctors, hospital — all hospitals — and health care providers maximum flexibility to respond to the virus and care for patients.”
He added, “This includes the following critical authorities: the ability to waive laws to enable tele-health, a fairly new, and incredible thing. It gives remote doctor’s visits and hospital check-ins. The power to waive certain federal license requirements so the doctors from other states can provide services in states with the greatest need.”
“They can do what they have to do. They know what they have to do. Now they don’t have any problem getting it done. Today we’re announcing a new partnership with private sector to vastly increase and accelerate our capacity to test for the coronavirus. We want to make sure that those who need a test can get it as very safely quickly.”
“Again, we don’t want everyone taking this test. It’s totally unnecessary,” the president said.
“I’m urging every state to set up emergency operations centers effective immediately,” he added.
Surrounded by executives from pharmaceutical and retail companies, the president said that they were all working to set up drive-thru test sites for coronavirus in an effort to deliver on the administration’s promise for wider access to testing.
He met with company executives Friday to discuss expanding access to testing through drive-through testing.
“The goal is for individuals to drive up and be swabbed without having to leave your car,” he said.
By allowing people to remain in their car, health officials say it limits the chance for exposure. Trump said the administration is working with Google to create a web portal to direct people to those locations.
“This will pass, this will pass through, and we will be even stronger for it,” the president said.