President Donald Trump has declared a national state of emergency due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In a press conference conducted on Friday, the president declared, “To unleash the full power of the federal government in this effort today, I am officially declaring a national emergency. Two very big words.”
The decision opens the door to access of up to $50 billion that can be dedicated to a multitude of “states, territories and locales in [the] shared fight of this disease.”
The president also instructed every state to open Emergency Operation Centres, effective immediately.
Hospitals will also be instructed to enact their emergency preparedness plans to ensure that they can meet the needs of citizens across the country.
The decision brings “broad new authority” to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), who will now be able to waive revisions of applicable laws and regulations to provide doctors, hospitals, and health service providers the maximum flexibility to respond to the virus and care for patients.
These new powers include the ability to waive laws to enable telehealth, which provides remote doctor consultations and hospital check-ins.
They also waive particular federal licensing requirements to ensure that out-of-state doctors can provide medical service to states with the greatest need for their skills.
Requirements of critical access hospitals to limit the number of beds to 25 and the length of stay to 96 hours will also be waived as will the requirements of a three-day hospital stay prior to admission to a nursing home.
Policies that hinder hospitals to bring additional physicians onboard or obtain needed office space will also be waived.
Trump also announced that “half a million” additional coronavirus tests will be available early next week.
As well, the president said there were plans to permit drive-thru testing for coronavirus for “critical locations identified by health professionals” that will permit individuals to be swabbed without having to leave their vehicles.
The ultimate goal, Trump explained, is to assist Americans that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, but he also emphasized that over-testing is not necessary.
“We will eliminate or remove every obstacle necessary to deliver our people the care that they need and that they are entitled to,” he said. “No resource will be spared, nothing whatsoever…This will pass and we will be stronger for it.”
Watch the entire press conference below.