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Friday, March 13, 2020

Trump Declares NATIONAL EMERGENCY Over Widening Coronavirus Outbreak

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Steven Nelson and Bob Fredericks

President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency over the widening coronavirus outbreak in the US.
“To unleash the full power of the federal government, I’m officially declaring a national emergency. Two very big words. The action I am taking will open up access to up to $50 billion of … very important and a large amount of money for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease,” Trump said, at a White House Rose Garden press conference Friday as the death toll in the US topped 40.
“And in furtherance of the order I’m urging every state to set up emergency operation centers effectively immediately. I’m also asking every hospital in this country to activate emergency preparedness plan to meet the needs of Americans everywhere,” the president continued.
Trump noted that he had been working with the individual state leaders, including New York. “I just spoke with Gov. Cuomo, we had a very good conversation and we’re working very strongly with many states including New York,” he said, adding that he was also expanding the power of Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar.
“Orders I’m issuing today will also confer broad new authority to the secretary of Health and Human Services. The secretary of HHS will be able to immediately waive provisions of applicable laws and regulations to give doctors and all hospitals and health care providers maximum flexibility to respond to the virus and care for patients,” he said.
And he again promised that the federal government would greatly expand testing, and that 1.4 million test kits would be available next week.
Trump invoked the national emergency under both the Stafford Act and the National Emergencies Act. That allows tens of billions of dollars to be quickly spent to help federal and state governments fight the rapidly spreading pandemic.
Invoking an emergency under the Stafford Act unleashes assistance to states from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It also allows Trump to make good on his Wednesday night vow to let people and businesses defer tax payments without interest or penalties, a senior official said.
The National Emergencies Act declaration allows the Department of Health and Human Services to repurpose broad swaths of federal dollars used for programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, the official told The Post.
The virus has infected almost 135,000 people and killed more than 4,900 worldwide.

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