Mar 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump declares national emergency over coronavirus outbreak

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump declared a national emergency on Friday over the coronavirus outbreak.

The state of play: This will allow the federal government to quickly free up billions in federal aid for local municipalities and states to use to combat the illness. Trump is facing mounting pressure from mayors and governors — as well as congressional Democrats — to respond quickly as the virus spreads.

What he's saying: Trump said he is making up to $50 billion available for states and territories to establish emergency operation centers and asked all hospitals in the U.S. to launch emergency plans.

  • He thanked Google for working on a website that will allow Americans to fill out a screening questionnaire to determine if a COVID-19 test is needed and where nearby "drive-thru" testing centers are located.
    • Reality check: Google says that Verily, the life sciences unit of its parent company Alphabet, is "in the early stages of development" on such a tool and is "planning to roll testing out in the Bay Area, with the hope of expanding more broadly over time," Axios' Ina Fried reports.
  • The "drive-thru" testing centers will be located in parking lots of CVS, Target, Walmart, Walgreens stores, Trump said.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will be given new authority to enable increased use of telehealth services and decrease restrictions for how many doctors and nurses can be staffed in hospitals to combat the outbreak, Trump said.
  • Trump announced he is waiving interest in all student loans held by the federal government until further notice, and instructed the secretary of energy to purchase large quantities of crude oil for storage in the U.S. strategic reserve.
  • Cruise and airline industries would be helped by the federal government if needed, the president indicated, when asked if a bailout was in the works.
  • "I don't take responsibility at all," Trump said, when asked if he took responsibility for the United States' lag in testing for the coronavirus outbreak. He mentioned the possibility of making an announcement on Sunday in regard to testing.
  • "I don't know that I have exposure, but I don't have any of the symptoms," he said, adding that he spoke with White House doctors on the issue. Trump said he would "most likely" be tested for COVID-19.
  • "We've ordered a large number of respirators just in case," Trump noted.

Flashback: Senate Democrats wrote to Trump earlier this week to urge such a declaration, saying it would allow "federal resources [to be] made available to impacted communities and tribes."

  • President Clinton previously targeted an outbreak with an emergency declaration in 2000, targeting West Nile virus in New York and New Jersey.

Go deeper... Coronavirus updates: Wall Street rebounds after worst day since 1987

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll passes 9,600

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 9,600 in the U.S. Sunday night, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday this upcoming week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

Trump tests negative for coronavirus

President Trump responds at the press briefing room at the White House on Saturday. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump's test for the novel coronavirus came back negative, his physician said Saturday.

Why it matters: Trump was tested Friday night after people he had met with at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last weekend showed symptoms or tested positive, including Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's press secretary.

Scoop: Inside the epic White House fight over hydroxychloroquine

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The White House coronavirus task force had its biggest fight yet on Saturday, pitting economic adviser Peter Navarro against infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci. At issue: How enthusiastically should the White House tout the prospects of an antimalarial drug to fight COVID-19?

Behind the scenes: This drama erupted into an epic Situation Room showdown. Trump's coronavirus task force gathered in the White House Situation Room on Saturday at about 1:30pm, according to four sources familiar with the conversation. Vice President Mike Pence sat at the head of the table.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 11 hours ago - Health