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President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday as part of the effort to free up emergency funding to combat the ongoing spread of coronavirus.
In a speech in the White House Rose Garden announced the emergency declaration to free up $50 billion in funding to help stop the coronavirus. He also announced waivers for hospitals and healthcare facilities to more quickly take on patients and conduct telehealth work.
“We will remove or eliminate every obstacle possible necessary to deliver our people the care that they need and that they are entitled to,” Trump said. “No resource will be spared. Nothing whatsoever.”
Trump said he had directed commercial laboratories to begin working on expanding the U.S. coronavirus test capacity. He announced his administration had partnered with private industry to develop tests as quickly as possible and the FDA approved a new coronavirus test within hours of receiving an application and said up to a half a million tests will be available next week.
Trump said around 5 million coronavirus tests could be available within a month. He also said the administration is working to implement drive-through testing available.
“The goal is for individuals to be able to drive up and be swabbed without having to leave your car,” Trump said.
Walmart announced it would dedicate a portion of its parking lots to prepare the drive-through testing option. Walgreens and Target also announced they would work to keep their stores open and stocked with pharmaceutical supplies and grocery essentials.
Trump said Google is part of the effort to help develop a website for directing potential coronavirus patients to get tested and to then to run those tests through nearby labs.
Vice President Mike Pence described the plan as not just a “whole of government approach” but an “all of American approach,” to describe the partnerships between the U.S. government and private companies.
The emergency declaration comes just two days after Trump announced travel restrictions throughout Europe on Wednesday. Those restrictions will go into place at midnight on Friday.
During his Wednesday address, Trump said he would be directing federal agencies to provide financial relief to businesses affected by coronavirus, including emergency loans and deferred tax payments. Similarly, individuals affected by the virus will also be eligible for financial relief.
In his Friday address Trump announced actions to alleviate economic effects from the virus spread, including waiving interest on student loans held by federal government agencies. He also instructed the Department of Energy of energy to stock its strategic oil reserves.
Trump also called on Americans to follow CDC guidelines to practice health precautions to help limit the spread of the disease, such as postponing large social events.