Trump Makes a Big Move; a Peer's Test Is Negative

National emergency declared; in Brazil, leader who met with Trump doesn't have COVID-19
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2020 11:33 AM CDT
Updated Mar 13, 2020 2:39 PM CDT
Trump May Declare National Emergency
President Trump speaks during a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump addressed the nation for the second time Friday about the coronavirus pandemic, this time to declare a national emergency. Trump said he would invoke the Stafford Act, typically used for natural disasters, which he said will free up $50 billion in emergency aid for states. "No resource will be spared," said Trump in the Rose Garden. Of the outbreak, he said, "This will pass." The move means FEMA will play a bigger role in coordinating the federal response, reports Politico. Among other things, the result could be the construction of mobile hospitals and temporary shelters. Related:

  • More: Trump waived interest on federal student loans, and he said he was giving Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar the authority to waive federal regulations on hospitals and doctors amid the crisis to give them more flexibility, per the AP. "Through a very collective action and shared sacrifice, national determination, we will overcome the threat of the virus," Trump said.
  • Faster tests: The White House has been taking flak for the lack of coronavirus test kits available, and the administration took steps Friday to fix that, reports the New York Times. The Department of Health and Human Services will give more than $1 million to two companies, DiaSorin Molecular and Qiagen, to ramp up development of the tests. Also, the FDA set up a 24-hour hotline for private and academic labs to process tests and authorize new ones.
  • Drive-thrus: Soon, people may be able to make use of drive-thru testing sites. The Washington Post reports the White House is partnering with the private sector and local health departments on the idea. The story notes that South Korea, widely hailed for its handling of the pandemic, has had such sites in use. Essentially, people head to a drive-thru clinic set up in a parking lot to be swabbed, and specimens are then sent to labs for testing. Trump, for his part, discouraged people without symptoms from seeking tests.

  • A 'no' in Brazil: Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, who met and shook hands with Trump last weekend, has tested negative for coronavirus, according to a post on his official Facebook page, reports the AP. Still, Bolsonaro's communications chief, who posed for a photo with Trump on the same trip, tested positive earlier. On Friday morning, local media in Brazil initially reported that Bolsonaro had tested positive. Trump has said he was not particularly worried about the situation.
  • A 'yes' in Florida: Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has tested positive for COVID-19, per NBC Miami. The 42-year-old will self-quarantine. He had been in contact with the Brazilian official who tested positive.
  • Ivanka, Barr worry: An Australian politician who posed for a photo last week in Washington with Ivanka Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and other White House officials has tested positive for coronavirus, reports USA Today. It's not clear if Peter Dutton visited the White House.
  • More help: Alibaba founder Jack Ma says he will donate 500,000 test kits and 1 million masks to the US through his foundation, reports Mashable.
  • 'Flatten the curve': As the US and other nations cancel mass gatherings, the phrase "flatten the curve" is gaining widespread use. The idea is that nations must slow the spread of the disease, starting immediately, or hospitals will be overwhelmed. A post at Vox has details, along with the origins of one doctor's graph explaining the principle.
(More coronavirus stories.)

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