US President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency to help handle the growing outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
The action helps $50 billion flow to states fighting to contain the spread of the virus, which has infected almost 1,700 people.
The move loosens medical insurance regulations, and could speed up the creation of new hospitals and the search for new treatments.
It allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to tap into billions of dollars and mobilize personnel more quickly to help state and local agencies and leaders respond.
“I am officially declaring a national emergency — two very big words,” said Trump at a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House.
The President also announced additional efforts to address the virus, including urging states to set up emergency operation centers and hospitals to active emergency preparedness plans, as well as a partnership with private companies to increase testing capabilities. He also said that the administration was working to set up drive-thru test sites.
“The goal is for individuals to be able to drive up and be swabbed without having to leave your car,” Trump said.
He added he would give Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar “broad new authority” allowing him to waive various laws and regulations related to hospital operations.
“Our overriding goal is to stop the spread of the virus,” Trump said. “This will pass … and we’ll be even stronger for it.”
Friday’s declaration follows Trump’s announcement on Wednesday that the US will be suspending all travel from Europe, excluding Britain, to the US for 30 days starting on Friday at midnight.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)