President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in an attempt to speed up response to the coronavirus outbreak. He said the move will open up access to $50 billion in federal funds for states, territories and localities in the shared fight against the coronavirus.
“I am officially declaring a national emergency. Two very big words,” Trump said from the White House on Friday afternoon.
Trump urged every state to immediately set up emergency operations centers and said the government will give doctors, hospitals and health care facilities maximum flexible to respond to the coronavirus, including waiving laws to enable telehealth services and allow doctors to work in states with the greatest needs.
The US will also vastly increase and accelerate coronavirus testing by partnering with the private sector, Trump said, noting that up to half a million additional tests are expected to be available early next week. Drive-thru test locations will be opened at critical locations, he said.
In addition, the president said that Google is working with the government on a website that will facilitate COVID-19 screening, letting people describe symptoms and get information on drive-thru testing locations.
As of Thursday, more than 1,600 cases of coronavirus and 41 deaths had been reported in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Concerns over the spread of the virus have led to the cancellation of large tech and cultural events. Some schools have shut down, and many companies have asked employees to work from home.