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Trump declares national emergency regarding COVID-19

Here's what the means
Posted at 3:32 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 14:44:13-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Trump declared a national emergency on Friday in relation to the coronavirus epidemic.

The emergency will open up access to $50 billion for states and territories to the fight the virus, Trump said during Friday's address.

Effective immediately, every state is urged to establish an emergency operation centers, Trump said. Hospitals have also been asked to to activate its emergency plans to help the needs of patients. New powers have been granted to the Health and Human Services Secretary because of the national emergency declared.

The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval to a new coronavirus test to run on Roche Holding AG's cobas 6800/8800 systems.

PREVIOUS | FDA grants emergency approval to coronavirus test, reports say method could increase tests 'tenfold'

Up to half a million additional tests are expected to be available sometime next week, Trump said. The locations could be announced as early as Sunday night.

Google is working to create a website to help people to determine if a test is needed, and if so, where to go and get tested, Trump said.

Trump says he is issuing an executive order to eliminate federal student loan interest.

MORE INFO | Trump says student loan interest will be waived amid coronavirus national emergency

What is a national emergency?

Congress passed the National Emergencies Act in 1976, which permits the president to pronounces a national emergency whenever they decide it’s appropriate.

Once declared, the president has dozens of specific laws made available to him, some of which put funding into the hands of the president that otherwise wouldn’t have been accessible to them.

What power does it give the president?

A national emergency declaration allows the president to bypass Congress and reprogram funding already allocated by lawmakers.

In short, the president takes control of spending and has the power to divert federal funds toward whatever they seem fit.

Under current law, a national emergency can be re-declared indefinitely, and as history shows, it is done frequently.

When have they been declared in the past?

Most national emergencies declared have been economic sanctions against foreign actors who’ve posed national threats. For example, President George W. Bush declared a national emergency after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — and that order is still in effect.

President Bill Clinton declared emergencies 17 times; President Bush declared 12; and President Barack Obama 13.

The most recent national emergency declared was last year by President Trump for the US-Mexico border security upgrade.

There have been 58 pronounced under the National Emergencies Act; 31are still in effect.

When was the last public health national emergency?

The last time a national emergency was called for a public health reason was for the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.

Then-President Barack Obama declared a national emergency in October 2009, after about 1,000 deaths in the United States. The national emergency allowed the United States to put certain plans into effect, such as moving emergency rooms offsite, according to the Associated Press.

The national emergency ended a year later, in October 2010.

You can watch the video of Trump's announcement below: