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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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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

2 hours ago - World

Coast Guard searches for 39 people after boat capsizes off Florida coast

A U.S. Coast Guard ship leaving its base in Miami Beach, Florida, in July. Photo: AP/Marta Lavandier

U.S. Coast Guard crews were searching into the night for 39 people whose boat sank off Florida's coast over the weekend after traveling from the Bahamas.

The big picture: A "good Samaritan" contacted the Coast Guard about 8 a.m. Tuesday to say they "rescued a man clinging to a capsized vessel" 45 miles east of Fort Pierce, per a tweet from the agency, which noted it was dealing with "a suspected human smuggling venture."

Scoop: Race to lead NRCC kicks off

Reps. Darin LaHood (left) and Richard Hudson. Photos: Al Drago/Getty Images (LaHood) and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Reps. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) are both telling colleagues they plan to run for chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee for the 2024 cycle, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans are confident they'll win the House majority back this fall, and the early jockeying to lead the caucus' fundraising apparatus is just another indicator of their optimism.

Scoop: White House plans expedited resettlement for Afghan refugees

Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders enter a processing center at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, last August. Photo: Sgt. Jimmie Baker/U.S. Army via Getty Images

President Biden's advisers are crafting a plan to accelerate bringing potentially thousands of Afghans to the U.S. from Qatar, according to a source with direct knowledge of the administration's internal deliberations on the subject.

Why it matters: As U.S. military leaders plan for a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, the administration is still struggling to handle the aftereffects of its chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal. One challenge: how to care for tens of thousands of displaced Afghans — many of whom helped the U.S. fight its longest war.

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