President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, amid media hysteria and a tumbling stock market. The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has infected more than 1,700 people in the United States, and killed 41 of them.
“To unleash the full power of the of the federal government toward this effort, I am officially declaring a national emergency,” Trump said during a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House. “The action I am taking will open up access to $50 billion dollars … for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease.”
The president said that he was urging “every state to set up emergency operations effective immediately.”
He added that he was asking all hospitals to activate their emergency preparedness plans to help combat the COVID-19. The emergency powers will also “give broad new authority” to Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar , Trump said.
The president also announced a new partnership with the private sector to “increase and accelerate” testing for the deadly virus.
Trump said partnerships with Walmart, Walgreens, Target, Labcorp and Quest Diagnostics will help provide access to COVID-19 tests and speed up the processing of those tests.
“We want to make sure that those who need a test, can get a test very quickly, safely, and conveniently,” Trump said, but stressed that the tests should not be used by people who are not at significant risk of having the virus.
The president noted that a new test has just been approved by the FDA and therefore a half million those tests will be available by early next week.
“We’ll be announcing locations probably on Sunday night,” Trump said. Additionally, he said, 1.4 million other tests will be ready next week and 5 million in another month.
“I doubt that it will be anywhere near that,” he added.
The president went on to announce an innovative new way to test for the virus.
“We’ve been in discussions with pharmacies and retailers to make drive through tests available,” Trump said. “The goal is for individuals to be able to drive up and be swabbed without having to leave your car.”
[Upon hearing this, former New York Times reporter Jim Roberts took to Twitter to ask: “What happens if you don’t have a car?” He quickly deleted the tweet].
Trump also announced that Google is developing a website that will be used to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing.
“Our overriding goal is to stop the spread of the virus and to help all Americans who have been impacted by this,” he said.
While the president was talking, the Dow Jones Industrial Average at first tumbled, then soared to close with a gain of 1,900 points.