In an effort to combat spread of novel coronavirus, US President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency.
The moves open up access to up to USD 50 billion in federal funds to contain the epidemic that has claimed 41 lives in the US.
The deadly virus, which has killed over 5,000 people globally, has spread to 46 of the 50 US states, with nearly 2,000 cases being reported from across the country.
“It could get worse. The next eight weeks are critical,” Trump told a press conference at the Rose Garden in the White House.
“To unleash the full power of the federal government … today I’m officially declaring a national emergency,” he announced and said that the action will open up access to up to USD 50 billion in the fight against coronavirus.
The deadly virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year, has infected more than 134,000 people globally.
The US president has asked every state to set up emergency operation centres immediately.
Every hospital has been directed to activate its emergency preparedness plan so that they can meet the needs of citizens, Trump said.
The emergency orders confer broad new authority to the secretary of health and human services, and gives doctors, hospitals and healthcare providers maximum flexibility to respond to the virus and care for patients.
“We will remove or eliminate every obstacle necessary to deliver our people the care that they need and that they are entitled,” Trump said, announcing a new partnership with the private sector to vastly increase and accelerate the capacity to conduct tests for the virus.
The president said that “we want to make sure that those who need a test can get a test very safely, quickly and conveniently”.