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.