In a press conference held on March 13, President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic within the United States to be a “national emergency.”
According to Trump, declaring it a national emergency allows $50 billion to be freed up to fight the virus. Trump asked every hospital in the nation to activate its emergency preparedness plan. He has also canceled interest growth on Federal Student Loans for the foreseeable future during the pandemic.
Trump also claimed to be working closely with states, ordering them to set up emergency operation centers effective immediately.
As a part of the declaration of a National Emergency, Trump has given the Secretary of the United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) the power to waive multiple federal regulations regarding hospitals and doctors, giving them more freedom to do what they think is best on the ground.
“They can do as they want. They can do what they have to do. They know what they have to do,” said Trump. “Now they won’t have any problem getting it done.”
Trump blamed what some have criticized as a late response in providing testing for the coronavirus on the “outdated” plan that was in place to deal with the situation. Trump’s solution to this was reworking the system and placing more reliance and responsibility on the private market, pharmaceutical companies in particular.
Trump’s administration has been working with pharmaceutical companies for the past several weeks and just fast-tracked the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process for the pharmaceutical company Roche Holding AG’s coronavirus test. According to Trump, this should result in around half a million more tests being readily available early next week and his administration is planning on releasing the locations of available testing sites on Sunday night. Trump said his administration is working with pharmacies and retailers so that many of these testing sites will provide drive through testing, allowing people to get swabbed for testing without ever having to leave their car. The opening of these testing sites will coincide with the launch of a new website that will allow people to find the nearest testing location.
The new website will also work as a screening process, where people will answer questions regarding symptoms and get a recommendation to be tested or not. Throughout the press conference, Trump emphasized his administration’s desire for people to not get tested if they are not experiencing symptoms. Trump and others were unable to confirm with certainty that there would be enough tests available for everyone who will need one come Sunday night.
Trump also mentioned the individual responsibility everyone has in helping to stop the spread of the disease and recommended everyone follow the CDC’s suggestions.
The administration’s current goal is to limit the spread of the virus and to help those affected.
“This will pass through, and we will be even stronger for it,” said Trump.