As the coronavirus pandemic tore deeper into the fabric of American public life, United States President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday to provide more money to fight a pandemic that has killed 41 people in the US.
“I am officially declaring a national emergency,” he said from the White House’s Rose Garden.
The declaration of a national emergency, a rarely used presidential power, allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist state and local governments and coordinate the nation’s response to the crisis.
Trump said the declaration would free up to $50bn 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.
The move follows an unprecedented cascade of shutdowns this week, from sports events to museums and workplaces, that is aimed at limiting large public gatherings to help slow the fast-spreading virus.
From lack of testing to an initial downplaying of the threat, the Trump administration has faced harsh criticism over its response to virus.
On Friday, Trump announced that the US will “vastly increase” its testing capacity.