US President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency over the Coronavirus epidemic, a move that will free up about $50b from federal resources to fight the virus while also indicating he could add the United Kingdom to the list of 26 countries banned from entering the US.
The move loosens regulations on the provision of healthcare and could speed up testing which has been criticized widely as being slow.
There are now 1,701 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US, and 40 deaths and Trump says the emergency declaration will allow the federal government to tap up to $50bn in emergency relief funds while also loosening regulations on the provision of healthcare that could speed up testing of the virus nationally.
“We may have to include them in the list of countries that we will, you could say, ban or whatever it is, during this period of time,” Trump said when asked why he did not include the UK on the list.
“The numbers have gone up fairly precipitously over the last 24 hours. “‘We may be adding (the UK), and we may be adding a couple of others, and we may frankly start thinking about taking some off,’ Trump said.
Trump flanked by Vice-president Mike Pence and members of the US Coronavirus response team at the Rose Garden said the emergency orders issued will also “confer broad new authorities” to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. so he can deal with the virus.
Azar will be able to “waive provisions of applicable laws and regulations to give doctors, hospitals — all hospitals — and health care providers maximum flexibility to respond to the virus,” he said.
Trump also claimed that the private sector will provide 5 million coronavirus tests within a month and he didn’t want everyone taking the test unless necessary.
“We don’t want people to take a test if we feel that they shouldn’t be doing it. And we don’t want everybody running out and taking — only if you have certain symptoms,” Trump said.
“We don’t want everybody taking this test. It’s totally unnecessary,”
President Trump on Friday also said that the threat of coronavirus to young, healthy Americans “remains very low,” but warned that “anyone can be a carrier” of the virus.
“While the risks to young and healthy Americans remains very low — read a lot about this in the last two weeks — anyone can be a carrier for the virus and risk transmission to older Americans and those with underlying health conditions, and those who are most at risk, they have not done very well,” Trump said in the Rose Garden.
He continued: “Older Americans, who are — especially if they have a health problem — have not done well. We must take all precautions and be responsible for the actions that we take.”