Washington D.C., Mar 13, 2020 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- President Donald Trump declared a state of national emergency on Friday, March 13, and outlined the steps that have been taken to fight the spread of COVID-19. According to the president, widespread testing for the virus will be available in the United States in the near future.
“To unleash the full power of the federal government in this effort today, I am officially declaring a national emergency,” said Trump. He stated that “no resource will be spared, nothing whatsoever” in fighting the disease.
The president said that “through a very collective action and shared sacrifice, national determination, we will overcome the threat of the virus,” although he declined to provide an estimated timeline.
Trump said that there has been “tremendous progress” made in the efforts against coronavirus.
By declaring the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, up to $50 billion in funds will become available to fight the illness.
In a press conference Friday in the White House Rose Garden, Trump announced that some regulations could be waived in order to allow medical professionals to practice in areas with the highest need, and permit hospitals to more effectively treat patients. This could include relaxing laws on telemedicine as well as adjusting licensing requirements.
The president ordered every state to create emergency operation centers, and requested that every hospital in the country “activate its emergency preparedness plan so that they can meet the needs of Americans everywhere.”
At the press conference, CEOs from large retail chains such as Target, Walmart, and Walgreens, along with medical companies Quest Diagnostics and Roche, spoke briefly at the podium to outline what their companies are doing in the fight against coronavirus. According to the CEOs, drive-through testing sites similar to those found in South Korea may soon become available.
Google, said Trump, will help create a website that will pre-screen people and determine if they should seek a test for coronavirus, and how they can acquire said test. The president stated that about half a million tests will become available by Monday, and that within a month, there will be 5 million tests available.
Trump, when questioned, said that he did not accept responsibility for the present shortage of coronavirus tests. The United States has lagged behind other countries in the number of tests that have been administered, which he is seeking to address in the near future.
Additionally, the president announced that student loan interest on federally-held loans would be paused, and that the Department of Energy would purchase crude oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
“We’re going to fill it right up to the top, saving the American taxpayer billions and billions of dollars, helping our oil industry,” said Trump, referring to the strategic reserve.
The stock market, which on Thursday registered one of the sharpest drops in 30 years, rose nearly 2,000 points after Trump’s speech.