President Trump declared a national emergency to free up national resources for distribution to federal, state and local government in an attempt to combat coronavirus or COVID-19, on Friday, March 13.
This declaration puts the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — which supports the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for coronavirus response and prevention — in a position to be the coordinator.
“To unleash the full power of the federal government in this effort, I am today declaring a National Emergency,” Trump said.
According to the Stafford Act, more federal funds will become available, as well as supplies, personnel and other support. FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor told lawmakers on Wednesday that the agency’s warehouses are stocked with commodities across the country.
Trump said all hospitals should activate their emergency preparedness plan in an attempt to meet the needs of Americans.
According to Trump, the emergency orders will also “confer broad new authorities” to Alex Azar, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary.
Azar will be able to “waive provisions of applicable laws and regulations to give doctors, hospitals and health care providers maximum flexibility to respond to the virus,” Trump continued in his speech. “
This includes waivers to allow additional physicians at certain hospitals, remove limits on numbers of bands and lengths of stays and remove some federal licensing limits.”
“Our overriding goal is to stop the spread of the virus,” Trump said. “This will pass … and we’ll be even stronger for it.”
Trump announced on Wednesday, March 11, a 30-day restriction on travel for most of Europe in an effort to reduce transmission.
However, public health experts and Democrats have spoken up after he initially failed to address testing shortages, hospital capacity and other domestic measures that could help stem the spread of the disease.
Ian Anzlowar is a City News Intern for the 2020 winter quarter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.