WASHINGTON, DC – President Donald Trump announced Friday afternoon the declaration of a national emergency in order to facilitate the distribution of government aid and contain the spread of COVID-19.
The declaration will allow the administration to utilize the Stafford Act, the federal law that governs disaster-relief efforts.The Act will free $50 billion for state and local governments to combat the coronavirus.
The move comes as reported cases of COVID-19 continue to skyrocket in the United States. There are at least 1,872 positive cases, with at least 41 deaths attributed to the disease so far, according to an ongoing count from The New York Times.
U.S. Stock prices went haywire on Thursday. The S&P 500 plunged by nearly 10 percent, the index’s worst sell-off in over three decades. After Trump’s conference on Friday, stock prices were shown to have improved in the afternoon trade with S&P gaining 5% in the opening.
President Trump addressed the widespread criticism of the availability of test kits during the conference announcing a series of steps including partnering with the private sector to set up drive-through testing sites.
“We will overcome the threat of the virus,” Trump said during the press conference in the Rose Garden.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reiterated Trump’s statement and added that “What’s going on here today will help it to end sooner than it would have.”
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse released a statement shortly after Trump’s conference in support of Trump’s decision stating:
“Big national threats — in this case, a virus that crosses international borders and state lines — are why we have a federal government in the first place. Declaring a national emergency is the right move for President Trump. The federal government needs to dramatically increase the availability of diagnostic testing kits. States need to responsibly promote social distancing to protect at-risk populations. Our families need to listen to mom: wash our hands, cover our coughs, and stay home if we feel sick. Nebraskans are tough and we’re smart. We’ll beat this.”
In other significant developments:
- The World Health Organization warned that Europe “has now become the epicenter” of the pandemic.
- Scientists have found that the coronavirus can stay infectious for days on some surfaces. They also discovered that the coronavirus can be shed by people before they develop symptoms and can linger in the body for many weeks.
- The Trump administration is awarding $1.3 million in federal money to two companies trying to develop rapid COVID-19 tests that could detect whether a person tests positive for the new coronavirus within an hour.