President Donald Trump addressed the nation on Friday by giving a press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House. During his speech, the President declared a national emergency to combat coronavirus outbreak. “To unleash the full power of the federal government under this effort today, I’m officially declaring a national emergency,” Trump said.
This move will allow his administration to waive certain regulations and direct funds to the states impacted by coronavirus pandemic. These funds can be used for cost-sharing for vaccinations, medical tests, supplies, and emergency workers. Earlier this week Senate Democrats urged President Trump to invoke the Stafford Act in order to free up more than $42 billion available in the Disaster Relief Fund, according to Bloomberg. However, Trump went a little further as he opened “access to up to $50 billion of very important, and a large amount of, money for states and territories and localities in our fight against this disease.”
Among other measures that can speed up testing was a diagnostic platform presented by Deborah Birx, a physician who was recently appointed as the coronavirus response coordinator in the White House. The site offers “users to input their symptoms into an online questionnaire” that can determine if they have to be tested, according to Business Insider. This system provides information on the closes drive-thru tests and the results can be available in 24-36 hours. Trump announced that as many as 1.4 million tests for coronavirus will be available to the public next week, more expected within the next month.
“I’m also asking every hospital in this country to activate its emergency preparedness plan so that they can meet the needs of Americans everywhere,” said Trump. This plan can include ensuring the availability of hospital beds as certain elective procedures will be postponed and ending the limits on the length of hospital stay.
Several other officials tasked with combating coronavirus pandemic, including Vice President Mike Pence and Anthony Fauci, a director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, all gave their comments and answered questions of the reporters. Kristen Welker confronted the President if he is willing to take responsibility for the lag in testing because Fauci earlier had called “a failing.” “No, I don’t take responsibility at all because we were given a set of circumstances and we were given rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time,” Trump responded. Fauci later corrected the correspondent and stated that he had meant the system of CDC. “When I said that, I meant the system was not designed for what we need. Now looking forward, the system will take care of it,” he said.
Trump was also asked if he is going to be tested for COVID-19, considering that he had met with Brazilian officials who later were tested positive. The President responded that he didn’t feel symptoms, but he admitted later that he is probably going to be tested, “most likely, yeah. Most likely. Not for that reason, but because I think I will do it anyway.”