New York, March 13, 2020
A major deliverable of the national emergency declared by U.S. President Donald Trump over the coronavirus on Friday is the $50 billion (N18 trillion) in federal funding to combat the disease.
Speaking from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Trump said the fund would be made available to states, local governments and territories to fight the virus.
As at the time of the declaration, 1,875 people had been infected and 41 others dead in 47 states and Washington, D.C., according to a New York Times database.
The move followed recent criticism of the Trump administration’s alleged poor handling of the disease, including failure to provide adequate testing.
The president said the emergency orders would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services “broad new authority” to act accordingly.
This includes waiver of “provisions of applicable laws and regulations to give doctors, hospitals and healthcare providers maximum flexibility to respond to the virus and care for patients”.
Accordingly, hospitals and other healthcare providers now have the power to waive laws on telehealth.
The move is also expected to provide up to 500,000 additional coronavirus tests nationwide by early next week.
Interest on all student loans is to be waived as well until further notice to ease the burden on students following the closure of universities and colleges across the country.
Trump said the declaration would “unleash the full power of the federal government” to combat the fast-spreading virus.
He urged every state to immediately set up emergency operation centers, and hospitals to activate their emergency preparedness plan.
He also said the administration, through the Department of Energy, would buy up more crude oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
The president stated that Google was developing a website to help determine whether people need test, and to help facilitate testing at a nearby location.
On the global level, the virus had infected 138,000 people and left no fewer than 5,000 dead as of Friday afternoon.