WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced Friday that he is
declaring the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, as Washington
struggles with providing Americans with relief and officials race to slow
the spread of the outbreak.
Speaking from the Rose Garden, Trump said, "I am officially declaring a
national emergency." He said the emergency would open up nearly $50 billion
for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak.
Trump said he was also giving Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex
Azar emergency authorities to waive federal regulations and laws to give
doctors and hospitals "flexibility" in treating patients.
also announced a new public-private partnership to expand coronavirus
testing capabilities, as his administration has come under fire for being
too slow in making the test available. The partnership will include
drive-thru testing in some locations and an online portal to screen those
seeking to get tested.
Still, Trump said that officials don't want people taking the test unless
they have certain symptoms. "It's totally unnecessary," Trump said. He
added, "This will pass."
Trump spoke as negotiations continue between the White House and Congress on
an aid package, but there was no announcement of a breakthrough, as House
Democrats prepare to vote on their own measure Friday.