Trump Declares Coronavirus Emergency, Freeing Disaster Funds

Gene Maddaus

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President Trump on Friday declared a national state of emergency in response to coronavirus, freeing up billions in federal funds to assist with state and local response to the pandemic.

“The action I am taking will open up access to $50 billion of very important — a large amount of money — for states and territories in our shared fight against this disease,” he said.

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Trump said the administration is also working to expand testing capacity.

“No resource will be spared, nothing whatsoever,” he said.

Trump brought a series of health industry CEOs to the podium to give remarks on their response to the crisis. Trump also said that the government will waive student loan interest during the crisis.

Stocks rallied as Trump spoke, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 9.4% on the day.

On Saturday, Trump was photographed with Fabio Wajngarten, press secretary to the president of Brazil. Wajngarten was subsequently diagnosed with the illness. Trump was asked if he would take self-isolation measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

“We have no symptoms whatsoever,” he said. “I don’t know that I had exposure, but I don’t have any of the symptoms.”

In response to a follow-up question, Trump said he would “most likely” get tested “fairly soon.”

He was also asked if he took responsibility for the slow ramp-up in testing.

“I don’t take responsibility at all. We were given a set of circumstances. We were given rules, regulations and specifications from a different time,” he said. “We’re now in very strong shape.”

Senate Democrats had urged Trump on Wednesday to make the emergency declaration, which allows states and municipalities to access FEMA funding.

The Trump administration has been working with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a coronavirus response bill. However, there is no sign of an imminent deal.

Pelosi held a press conference on Friday to lay out the House bill, which she said would pass the chamber later on Friday. The bill includes mandates for free testing, paid sick leave and family medical leave for those with the virus. Trump, meanwhile, continued to call for a payroll tax holiday, which Democrats have resisted.

“We don’t think they’re giving enough,” Trump said at the press conference. “They’re not doing what’s right for the country.”

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