President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in the United States as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the country, during a White House press conference on Friday, March 13.
“I am officially declaring a national emergency, two very big words,” Trump said. The emergency declaration means that up to $50 billion in federal funds will be available to combat the spreading pandemic.
Trump said that restrictions on doctors and hospitals will be lifted, including the maximum length of stay for patients, bed limit requirements and telehealth usage. He also urged every state to set up emergency operation centers immediately and asked “every hospital in the country to activate its emergency preparedness plan.”
There are about 4,287 confirmed cases of coronavirus throughout the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 3,487 cases as of noon of Monday, March 16. New York state has the most confirmed cases in the country, with 950 confirmed cases as of Monday, March 16.
As new cases jumped 30% overnight from Thursday to Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he guesses “there are thousands and thousands of cases walking around the state of New York.”
The number of confirmed cases in Suffolk County is currently at 63, according to the New York State Department of Health.
Millions of virus testing kits will become available to states, Trump said. After this federal approval, Cuomo announced that 28 labs across the state have been authorized to begin running coronavirus tests.
After speaking to federal government officials, the state should be able to process 6,000 tests a day starting next week, Cuomo said.
Trump also said that interest on student loans will be waived “until further notice.” The policy will be implemented by the Department of Education in order to help students who have had their schools close down, he said.
According to a proposal from the Senate Democrats’ COVID-19 Economic and Community Services, a 6-month payment plan would give borrowers “the flexibility they need to make loan payments without incurring additional fees, compounding interest or negative incidents reflected in their credit scores.” It is still unclear how the interest on student loans will be waived.
The conference marks the first and only time he has addressed the coronavirus as a problem within the U.S., according to the New York Times.
“This will pass, this will pass through, and we will be even stronger for it,” the president said.