President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday and announced a series executive measures to combat the coronavirus crisis.
Trump held a press conference at the White House Friday afternoon in response to the rapidly spreading outbreak.
The president’s move could free up to $50 billion to help fight against the viral disease, NBC News reports. Trump also empowered the secretary of Health and Human Services to waive certain laws and regulations to contain the virus and ensure that patients are treated.
“To unleash the full power of the federal government … I am officially declaring a national emergency,” Trump declared. “Two very big words.”
In addition to opening up access to billions of dollars, Trump’s executive move would more easily allow local health facilities to extend hospital stays and add more beds. “Drive-thru” virus tests would also be implemented.
The news comes as the president continues to catch heat over his administration’s response to the pandemic. Most of the criticism stems from the lack of coronavirus testing being done compared with other countries.
Trump will invoke the Stafford Act to allow for more federal aid to be sent to states, according to Bloomberg.
TheGrio previously reported, earlier in the day on Friday, Trump attempted to shift blame for the government’s sluggish response to the virus by slamming former President Barack Obama and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for “inadequate” testing for the potentially deadly virus.
“For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it. It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped,” Trump wrote. “President Obama made changes that only complicated things further.
Earlier in the week, Trump suspended all travel between the U.S. and Europe for 30 days (beginning Friday) as he seeks to combat a viral pandemic.
Trump made the announcement in an Oval Office address to the nation, blaming the European Union for not acting quickly enough to address the novel coronavirus and saying U.S. clusters were “seeded” by European travelers.
The restrictions won’t apply to the United Kingdom and the U.S. intends to monitor the situation to determine if travel could be reopened earlier.
Trump said, “we are marshalling the full power” of the government and private sector to protect the American people.