WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency during a news conference Friday afternoon, a move which he said would open up to $50 billion in funding for state and local response to the new coronavirus.
He also announced FDA approval for medical company Roche to begin creating more tests for the coronavirus, bringing an additional 500,000 to the U.S. by early next week. The locations where the tests will be distributed will be announced Sunday night, Trump said, according to a live stream of the address at www.whitehouse.gov.
This will bring U.S. test stock to 1.4 million by next week, with capability to have up to 5 million within a month.
He added the introduction of online screening, where depending on results a person may be able to then get drive-thru testing at local companies, including Walgreens, Target, Walmart and CVS among those who will create dedicated space in parking lots for the testing.
He added that by working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, restrictions will be waived, including waiving doctors’ state licensure, so they’re able to travel to areas hardest hit to help. Among the waivers is the requirement for patients to stay at the hospital for three days prior to being admitted to a nursing home.
He also directed every hospital in the country to institute emergency preparedness plans immediately if they haven’t already.
The president also announced a waiver of interest on all federal student loans until further notice, and has directed the U.S. Secretary of Energy to purchase “large quantities of crude oil,” which he said will strengthen the U.S.’s energy independence.
“It puts us in a position that makes us very strong and we’re buying it at a very good price,” Trump said.
Friday’s press conference follows an address by the president Wednesday, when he said he would limit travel to the U.S. from all European countries except the United Kingdom for 30 days. Americans coming from Europe will be allowed to enter the U.S. after two-week isolation. Trump said he may revisit the travel ban based on rising numbers of cases in the U.K.
“This will pass through and we’re going to be even stronger for it,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that as of Friday, there have been 1,629 people in the U.S. who have tested positive or presumptive positive for the coronavirus in 46 states and the District of Columbia, with 41 deaths.
The Indiana State Department of Health reported that as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday, there were 12 cases among eight Indiana counties with no deaths. The Indiana State Department of Health has tested 73 people.