President Donald Trump has announced he’s declaring a national emergency to deal with the spread of the coronavirus.
Speaking from the Rose Garden today (March 13), Trump said, “To unleash the full power of the federal government, I am officially declaring a national emergency.”
That will allow quick delivery of $50 billion to states, territories and localities for the fight against COVID-19, he said.
The declaration is through the Stafford Act, a 1988 federal law that allows for assistance to states and localities during a disaster or emergency.
The Centers for Disease Control says that as of today, 1,629 cases and 41 deaths have been reported in the United States. The Washington state Department of Health reports 457 cases with 31 deaths. It reported 4,250 negative test results.
Trump said all Americans should not rush to be tested.
“We don’t want people to take a test if we feel that they shouldn’t be doing it, and we don’t want everybody running out and taking — only if you have certain symptoms,” Trump said, according to national news outlets.
On March 12, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, D-Seattle — ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee — joined Democratic Senators Tina Smith of Minnesota, Gary Peters of Missouri, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York in leading a number of their Democratic Senate colleagues in introducing the Free COVID-19 Testing Act, which would expand free tests to confirm infections.
It would waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related health care services for individuals enrolled in private health plans, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, VA as well as for federal civilians, American Indians and Alaska Natives; bar private insurers from imposing limits like prior authorization for testing; and for uninsured individuals, this legislation would cover the cost of lab fees.
CNN reported that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, spoke to Vice President Mike Pence on March 12 and requested the Trump administration declare an emergency to provide vital assistance to states.