RAW VIDEO: President Trump declares a national emergency to combat coronavirus

Coronavirus

WASHINGTON (WLNS/CNN/CBS News/AP) – President Donald Trump declared a national emergency that would free up tens of billions of federal dollars to combat coronavirus.

“To unleash the full power of the federal government in this effort today, I am officially declaring a national emergency,” the president announced.

The president is likely to invoke the Stafford Act, enabling him to increase funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) efforts.

President Trump spoke from the White House Rose Garden about the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the action would “open up access to up to $50 billion,” which he described as “a large amount of money for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease.”

President Trump also urged states to set up emergency operation centers immediately.

“No resource will be spared, nothing whatsoever,” the president told reporters.

Even as he announced a scaling up of testing capacity for coronavirus, President Trump said Friday he did not believe all Americans should rush to be tested.

“We don’t want people to take a test if we feel that they shouldn’t be doing it. And we don’t want everybody running out and taking — only if you have certain symptoms,” he said in the Rose Garden.

Trump, who began he remarks giving himself plaudits for his response to the outbreak, still appeared to believe the spread could be limited and that not every person in the country would require access to tests.

“We don’t want everybody taking this test. It’s totally unnecessary,” he said.

President Trump also announced the administration has established a new partnership with private industry to expand testing capabilities, even as the administration faces criticism over a lack of tests for health facilities that need them. Mr. Trump said the administration is also trying to work with pharmacies and private entities to establish drive-thru testing sites.

President Trump announced that private labs and vaccine developers will be able to provide five million coronavirus tests within a month.

He also claimed that drive-through testing sites will be set up to make coronavirus tests available to more people and more quickly, something that has been implemented in other countries.

President Trump said he was also giving Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar emergency authorities to waive federal regulations and laws to give doctors and hospitals “flexibility” in treating patients.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, praised President Trump’s emergency action on coronavirus, saying the move “remove the constraints” health, state, and local officials have in containing the virus.

“We still have a long way to go. There will be many more cases. But we’ll take care of that and ultimately, as the President said, this will end,” he said.

“But what’s going on here today is going to help it to end sooner than it would have,” added Fauci.

President Trump said the emergency orders issued today will also “confer broad new authorities” to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Azar will be able to “waive provisions of applicable laws and regulations to give doctors, hospitals — all hospitals — and health care providers maximum flexibility to respond to the virus,” he said.

That includes waivers of some federal licensing requirements, waivers to critical access limits on numbers of beds and lengths of stays, and waivers to rules to bring additional physicians on board at certain hospitals.

President Trump announced new measures aimed at easing the burden of student loans as universities and colleges across the country shut their doors, as well as measures aimed at taking advantage of low oil prices.

“I’ve waived interest on all student loans held by federal government agencies, and that will be until further notice,” Trump said during an appearance in the Rose Garden, noting the number of schools that have sent students home amid the growing coronavirus outbreak.

The President also said he has directed the Secretary of Energy “to purchase large quantities of crude oil for the US strategic reserves.”

Oil prices have tumbled in recent days – particularly as the demand for jet fuel has plummeted as global travel slows dramatically amid various bans on international movement.

“That’s something that would have not even been possible a week ago,” Trump said of the large-scale purchase he was ordering the Energy Department to make.

“So we’re going to fill it up, it’s a good time to fill it up,” he said of the strategic crude oil reserves.

President Trump continues to shake hands with corporate chiefs in the Rose Garden, even as health experts warn against the practice in a bid to prevent community spread.

President Trump, who has come into contact with at least one person who tested positive for coronavirus, has a self-avowed dislike of shaking hands.

But he couldn’t seem to shake the habit on Friday until at last a CEO offered an elbow bump instead of a handshake.

President Trump was asked Friday if there were other specific measures the administration plans to undertake in response to the coronavirus.

“We’re going to be releasing a paper in about two hours stating quite a few other steps, very important ones,” Trump said during a White House Rose Garden news conference.

President Trump said he is experiencing no symptoms of the coronavirus despite meeting last week with a Brazilian official who tested positive for coronavirus.

“No. We have no symptoms whatsoever,” said the president, in response to a question from a reporter in the Rose Garden about whether he is planning to take any kind of precautionary measure to protect him and his staff.

He said he had a “fantastic meeting” with Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro whose aide tested positive for coronavirus after the meeting with Trump. Trump pointed out that Bolsonaro tested negative.

President Trump said Friday he does not currently support the House Democrats’ coronavirus bill, which would among other things provide paid leave to Americans who can’t go into work during the pandemic.

“We just don’t think they’re giving enough, we don’t think the Democrats are giving enough,” President Trump said during an appearance in the Rose Garden.

“We thought we had something, but all of a sudden they didn’t agree to certain things,” President Trump said of Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spoke eight times Friday as they worked to negotiate a coronavirus response all sides can support, although sticking points over the paid leave aspects of the legislation remain.

“They’re not doing what’s right for the country,” President Trump said.

President Trump said that the threat of novel coronavirus to young, healthy Americans “remains very low,” but warned that “anyone can be a carrier” of the virus.

The remarks came as he has not been tested for coronavirus despite extended contact with someone who has been diagnosed.

“While the risks to young and healthy Americans remains very low — read a lot about this in the last two weeks — anyone can be a carrier for the virus and risk transmission to older Americans and those with underlying health conditions, and those who are most at risk, they have not done very well,” Trump said in the Rose Garden.

“Older Americans, who are — especially if they have a health problem — have not done well. We must take all precautions and be responsible for the actions that we take,” he continued.

Push by reporters on why he hasn’t been tested for coronavirus after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus, President Trump said, “I didn’t say I wasn’t going to be tested.”

He followed up that “most likely” he’ll get tested but didn’t say when.

For more information on coronavirus, available resources include Michigan.gov/coronavirus as well as cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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