President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency to fight the spread of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus Friday afternoon from the White House’s Rose Garden.
“To unleash the full power of the federal government for this effort, today I’m officially declaring a national emergency,” Trump said. “Two very big words.”
With this declaration, the president now has access to tens of billions of dollars to handle the crisis. He promised to provide Americans with the resources needed to fight the virus and survive its punishing economic effects.
“No resources will be spared,” Trump said. “Nothing whatsoever.”
The president detailed his response at a critical moment of his presidency. Public concern about the virus is universal, as corporate America rapidly canceled conferences, sporting events, and large gatherings of people on Thursday and Friday.
“The next eight weeks are critical. We can learn and we will turn a corner on this virus,” Trump said. “Some of the doctors say it will wash through, it will flow through. Interesting terms. And very accurate, I think.”
The president appeared with Vice President Mike Pence plus top health officials and corporate executives, demonstrating his commitment to both a private and public response to help fight the virus.
“You’ll be hearing from some of the largest companies and greatest retailers and medical companies in the world,” he said. “They’re standing right behind me and side of me.”
Representatives from Walmart, CVS, Target, and Walgreens joined the president at his press conference as well as health product manufacturing centers.
The president detailed ways to increase the amount of test production and get them into the hands of major health companies around the country. He cautioned, however, that it was not necessary for everyone to take it if they were not showing symptoms.
“Our overriding goal is to stop the spread of the virus and help all Americans impacted by this,” he said. “Again, we don’t want everybody taking this test. It is totally unnecessary.”
Trump also encouraged Americans to use telehealth services to allow all doctors in the country to help care for potentially infected patients.
He thanked Google for helping set up a website to help Americans find their testing location.
“Google is helping to develop a website, it is going to be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past, to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location,” he said.
The president thanked his team for assembling a full approach to containing the virus and ending the threat to Americans.
“We’ve been working very hard on this, we’ve made tremendous progress,” Trump said, championing his travel bans for reducing the entry of infected individuals.
He dismissed accusations from some journalists who suggested he was being hypocritical by not putting himself into self-quarantine after reports noted that he took a photo with an individual from Brazil that later tested positive for the virus.
“I’m not coming back from someplace,” he said. “I take pictures and it lasts for literally seconds.”
Trump also said he did not take responsibility for the failure of the government to provide enough testing as quickly as needed.
“I don’t take responsibility at all because we were given a set of circumstances and we were given rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time,” he said, adding, “We’re now in very very strong shape.”