President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in response to COVID-19 this afternoon.
This declaration will make billions of dollars of federal aid available and require every state to establish emergency operations centers and have hospitals activate emergency plans. Trump has also waived interest on student loans for an undefined amount of time.
Travel screening, advisement and bans have been set in place. All travel to Europe, exempting the U.K, has been banned and those coming back will go through screening and be asked to participate in self-quarantine for 14 days.
Businesses such as Target, CVS, Walmart and Walgreens will remain open in an effort to supply Americans with necessary household supplies. The government is partnering with these private businesses to also create a drive-thru options for COVID-19 testing. Google is working on setting up a screening questionnaire to help the population determine if they have the appropriate symptoms to get screened.
Vice President Mike Pence said the coronavirus is present in 46 out of 50 states, advised hygienic practices and raised awareness for those most vulnerable to the disease - senior citizens with chronic illnesses.
Some regulations in the health industry have been waved to reduce stress on hospitals, such as rules limiting length of stay and number of open beds in hospitals. Nursing homes are going to be thoroughly inspected and no visitors will be allowed in many instances. This is amid the cancellation of many events and school closures.
Trump said the system is being redesigned for blanket COVID-19 testing to make testing available for larger amounts of Americans.
“Our most effective weapon right now is to limit the damage [...] and slow the spread of the virus,” Trump said.
The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention will regularly be posting updates on their website regarding COVID-19.