On Friday, President Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus in order to free up specific money and resources to combat the disease. He also ordered a total travel ban from Europe, (the European Union is extremely upset) that will go into effect at midnight on Friday. Why did he declare a national emergency?
“To unleash the full efforts of the federal government for this effort today, I am officially declaring a national emergency — two very big words.” President Trump
They are indeed very big words. A declaration of national emergency over the coronavirus under the “Stafford Act” authorizes FEMA to mobilize assistance to communities and states hardest hit by the virus. It directs that federal aid be made available to states. It cuts through the red tape in nearly every area in a health crisis.
He has tasked the Health and Human Services Secretary with waiving certain provisions so that doctors and hospitals can have “maximum flexibility” to care for patients. Telehealth, consultations with doctors over the phone, is one of the avenues mentioned.
It allows states to request a 75% cost share in terms of emergency workers, testing, medical supplies and vaccinations.
Testing centers will be in tents in Walmart parking lots, as well as other companies that have partnered with the Federal government. The President cautioned people not to do testing unless necessary, but he stated that Google has 1,700 people working on a new website that should be up Sunday.
The travel ban has exemptions for Americans, and US Military, but requires that they be screened upon arrival in the US, and voluntarily go into self-quarantine.
There are currently 75,000 US troops in the countries affected by the Coronavirus, according to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. He already halted all PCS moves from Italy, South Korea for two months.
Six states have now activated their National Guard troops (Military Times) to assist with the virus, and most reports say more states will follow, although the actual number of guardsmen participating is low. There are now 46 states with cases of coronavirus.
The President also announced that since the price of crude oil has dropped severely, the US is buying up large quantities of it for the national strategic reserve. “We’re gonna fill it to the top,” the President said, “because the price is right.”
He further announced that the interest on student loans will be suspended for the duration of the national emergency.
After short remarks by Vice President Pence and others, the President ended by saying:
“Short term sacrifices will produce long-term gain. The spirit of America is unbreakable. We’re with you every step of the way. No nation is better prepared. With faith, and heart, and hope, and love and determination, we will succeed.”
The following is the full press conference:
Featured photo: Screenshot of press conference from the Rose Garden of the White House 3-13-2020 (Left to right: VP Pence, President Trump, Alex Azar Sec HHS)