President Donald Trump on Friday announced a new series of measures to combat the coronavirus and treat those who are affected, while pushing back on criticism that his administration was unprepared to confront the pandemic.
Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Trump declared a national emergency that could free up $50 billion to help fight the pandemic and said that he was empowering the secretary of Health and Human Services to waive certain laws and regulations to ensure the virus can be contained and patients treated.
“To unleash the full power of the federal government … I am officially declaring a national emergency,” Trump said.
“Two very big words,” he added.
Trump said the action would “open up access” to up to $50 billion “for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease.”
Flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and other top federal officials and corporate executives from companies such as Walmart, Trump said that the ability to waive certain laws and regulations would allow for easier admission to nursing homes and end limits on the length of hospital stays and the number of beds available.