UPDATE (3:34 P.M.): President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in his latest bid to combat the escalating coronavirus crisis.
Trump said the move would free up $50 billion in additional funding. He also said he would allow Health and Human Services to waive certain regulations and laws to more quickly deliver testing and care for coronavirus patients.
“No resource will be spared,” Trump said.
Trump’s decision comes after his administration has faced weeks of criticism for failing to adequately respond to the spreading disease, which has killed more than 5,000 people worldwide and infected tens of thousands.
President Donald Trump is expected to declare an emergency on Friday, tapping the Federal Emergency Management Agency to play a bigger role combating the escalating coronavirus crisis, according to a senior administration official.
The move will also unleash billions in FEMA funding.
Trump’s decision comes after his administration has faced weeks of criticism for failing to provide health workers with adequate test kits and resources as the novel virus has infiltrated communities across the country. Health experts have also reprimanded Trump for repeatedly downplaying what has now been deemed a global pandemic.
Just two days ago, a White House aide involved in the coronavirus response told POLITICO that Trump would sign a limited emergency declaration that only addressed the faltering economy by unleashing billions of dollars for loans to small businesses and to cover missed paychecks for hourly workers.
But Democrats and many health care industry leaders had pressured Trump to declare a more expansive emergency under the Stafford Act, which would activate FEMA to help hard-hit states build mobile hospitals and shelters, while assisting with public safety and other issues.
A Stafford Act declaration also unlocks FEMA’s disaster relief fund, which has a balance of more than $40 billion.
The Health and Human Services will remain the lead agency in the administration’s coronavirus response.