Trump Declares COVID-19 US National Emergency: 'No Resource Will Be Spared'
US President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to bolster funding for fighting the Covid-19 virus outbreak in the country.
US President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency over the fast-spreading coronavirus, opening the door to providing what he said was about $US50 billion ($A81 billion) in federal aid to fight the disease.
Trump made the announcement at a Rose Garden news conference on Friday. Trump said he was declaring the national emergency in order to "unleash the full power of the federal government".
"To unleash the full power of the federal government in this effort today, I am officially declaring a national emergency," the president announced as he stood alongside top administration officials and company CEOs he met with earlier.
The president is likely to invoke the Stafford Act, enabling him to increase funding for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) efforts, although the president did not explicitly mention the Stafford Act. On another note, the president announced he's waived all interest on federal student loans for the time being.
"No resource will be spared, nothing whatsoever," the president told reporters.
The administration is also working with Google to establish a coronavirus testing website to help doctors and patients assess their risk and where they can receive a test. Dr. Deborah Birx, a lead point person on the coronavirus task force, said they want to bring that guidance to the entire country.
The president handed the microphone over to CEOs on stage, including the heads of Target, Walmart, CEO and Quest Diagnostics, to say what they're doing to address the need for testing and relevant coronavirus health care.
He urged every state to set up emergency centres to help fight the virus. Trump said he was also giving Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar emergency authorities to waive federal regulations and laws to give doctors and hospitals "flexibility" in treating patients.
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-through testing in some locations and an online portal to screen those seeking to get tested.
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."
As the virus spreads, American life is being altered by cancellations, postponements and closures.
The president's last televised appearance was on Wednesday, when he gave an Oval Office address to the nation that resulted in confusion. He announced European travel restrictions and mistakenly announced trade restrictions.
On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had its worst day since 1987 and trading was halted briefly as markets plunged. On Friday, Wall Street regained its footing.
There were more than 1,200 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The Trump administration still can't say exactly how many people have been tested for the virus.
Amid the outbreak, Disney World is closing. Broadway is shutting its doors. Schools are closing and large gatherings are being banned. The Boston Marathon and the Masters Tournament are now postponed, according to announcements made Friday.