President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday to offset lagging coronavirus testing and unlock billions of dollars — accelerating a response plan that has faced weeks of criticism.
Trump touted partnerships with private companies that he claimed would allow patients to learn if they need to be tested and locate a testing site, some of which will be drive-thru facilities at big-box retailers across the country.
The president laid out his strategy to slow COVID-19 and tweeted his support for the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” Friday night. It provides free testing and paid sick leave for impacted workers.
All this as U.S. cases soar past 2,300 and here in the Bay Area — both Santa Clara and San Francisco counties are further restricting large gatherings.
The national emergency is the Trump Administration’s latest attempt to slow the spread of the virus so it does not overwhelm the healthcare community.
The president is stepping up the federal response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“To unleash the full power of the federal government — I am declaring a national emergency,” Trump said.
The order frees up as much as $50 billion for state and local governments so they can better respond to the outbreak. It also eases federal guidelines so physicians cross state lines should help be needed elsewhere.
“We’re going to be able to remove the restraints so that people at the state, the local level, the individual physician, all the way up through the federal government will have as many constraints as possible removed for them to do everything they possibly can so that we can implement the things that we’ve been talking about,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
The president also announced the approval of a new test that will provide results faster — a Google-affiliated website to help determine if you need to be tested and a partnership with the private sector to allow more testing.
“We, therefore, expect a half a million additional tests will be available early next week,” Trump said.
Businesses like Walmart and Target have also been asked to facilitate drive through testing sites.
Despite advice to the contrary, the president shook hands several times during the news conference and refused to take responsibility for what some call the administration’s slow response and the disbanding of the White House pandemics office.
“We’ve done a great job because we acted quickly, we acted early,” Trump said. “There’s nothing we could’ve done that was better than closing our borders to highly infected areas.”
The president was also asked if he should isolate himself since a Brazilian official he was in contact with has tested positive for the coronavirus. He said his doctors have advised him that’s not necessary. But he did say he would likely be tested for the coronavirus, though not due to this interaction.