US President Trump declares COVID-19 national emergency

Monday, March 16, 2020

On Friday, United States President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The move came two days after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak, which causes the COVID-19 disease, to be a pandemic.

The move gives the federal government access to around US$50 billion in extra funding to combat the pandemic, according to NBC News.

The proclamation specifically said "the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States constitutes a national emergency" and said the national emergency began on March 1, almost two weeks before the proclamation itself. The United States Department of Health and Human Services declared the outbreak a "public health emergency" on January 31.

Trump did not place the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in charge of the government's response to COVID-19, which Politico reported left some experts in disaster management disappointed. Politico quoted Tim Manning, formerly a deputy administrator at FEMA, as saying "FEMA has an important role in coordinating the larger response to the crisis" and "[i]f there's an emergency, FEMA needs to be involved."

Trump made the decision under provisions of the National Emergencies Act, amongst other governing authorities. The Trump administration also announced other efforts in response to COVID-19, including waiving the interest it collects on federal student loans and increasing U.S. strategic oil reserve oil purchases.