On Friday (March 13), President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in an attempt to funnel relief more quickly to those affected by the coronavirus, he said in a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House.
“I am officially declaring a national emergency,” President Trump said. “No resources will be spared, nothing whatsoever.”
The president assured that 5 million test kits would be available by next week, but he added that he didn't think that would be necessary. His plan includes drive-through testing capabilities, bolstered by Walmart, CVS, Target, and Walgreens who are all working with the administration to keep their stores open and dedicate parts of their parking lots for the drive-through testing abilities. He also announced an executive order that will wave interest in all student loans held by federal agencies for the time being. Vice President Mike Pense restated that the country would halt the admission of many European nationals into the United States. They are also ending all visits to nursing homes, except in end-of-life situations.
Earlier on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined legislation that aims to make coronavirus testing free in the U.S. “We can only defeat this outbreak if we have an accurate determination of its scale and scope,” she said.
Trump said in the press conference that this move will open up $50 billion of dollars in the fight to slow the spread of the pandemic. Multiple states — including Arizona, Delaware, Florida, New York, Tennessee, and Washington — have already declared states of emergency. Major events, from the NBA to Coachella, have been canceled or postponed.
“This is an unprecedented public health situation and we can’t wait until we’re in the middle of it to slow it down,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said after deciding to close schools down in his state. “We’ve got to get ahead of the curve. One main defense is to reduce the interaction of people in our lives.”
Trump's announcement comes days after he gave a speech on Wednesday (March 11), in which he announced bans of foreign travelers from Europe for the next month and economic relief packages for workers and companies dealing with the outbreak. However, there was almost immediate backlash from his speech in part because of the misinformation he fueled. In response, both Democratic presidential candidates announced what the response would look like in their own administrations.