President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday afternoon in a press conference from the Rose Garden in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration will free up $50 billion for states and territories "in our shared fight against this disease." Those watching the speech from home took to Twitter to debate the president's comments.
"To unleash the full power of the federal government in this effort today, I am officially declaring a national emergency," Trump said Friday afternoon. "Two very big words. The action I am taking will open up access to $50 billion... for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease."
Trump said he was ordering all 50 states to open emergency operation centers to better coordinate efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19. The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, was also granted the power to waive certain laws and regulations to make sure patients are treated and stop the virus from spreading. This could make admission to nursing homes and increasing the number of hospital beds easier.
Elsewhere in his remarks Friday, Trump said testing will be more widely available, with 1.4 million available next week and more than 5 million through April, reports NBC News. "Drive-thru" virus tests will also be planned.
Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
At one point during the press conference, Trump was asked if he was responsible for the lack of testing early on. "I don't take responsibility at all," Trump replied. Some pointed out that this was in stark contrast to Trump's statement in 2016 that he "alone can fix" the government.
Trump said at the RNC in 2016, "Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it." https://t.co/h84Kh2Jdkh— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 13, 2020
After Trump officially declared a national emergency, the president commented that those are "two very big words." This was picked up on social media quickly.
“National emergency are two very big words” - Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States, while declaring coronavirus a national emergency.— JDL🗽 (@josh_dleon) March 13, 2020
Trump later said he will "most likely" take the COVID-19 test. However, he previously mentioned he did not display symptoms and discouraged those without symptoms not to take the test at this time.
The president said he will "most likely" be tested for Covid-19, after spending a significant part of this presser saying he doesn't have symptoms, and also discouraging people w/o symptoms to take tests.— Katie Rogers (@katierogers) March 13, 2020
Pres. Trump: "Again, we don't want everybody taking this test. It's totally unnecessary. And this will pass. This will pass through, and we're going to be even stronger for it." https://t.co/saJgXKpl32 pic.twitter.com/s2tbdlfhXR— ABC News (@ABC) March 13, 2020
I asked President Trump if he was being selfish for not getting tested and possibly spreading #Coronavirus to others. He said he would “probably” get one.— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) March 13, 2020
Fox News anchor Bret Beir praised Trump's remarks, pointing out how the stock market jumped during his speech.
This is an impressive roll-out by @realDonaldTrump of CEO's of major companies coming together to fight the coronavirus -while declaring a national emergency. The markets jumped 800+ points since this news conference started. A nation fighting a problem together--IS the message— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) March 13, 2020
.@realDonaldTrump shook two speakers’ hands at the coronavirus press conference.
(To avoid passing along germs, disease-control experts say not to shake hands.)
Trump tried to shake this executive’s hand — but he declined and elbowbumped Trump instead. pic.twitter.com/w3XpnHhpqM— Matthew Chayes (@chayesmatthew) March 13, 2020
Stock market disagrees https://t.co/OtBKYDaU4U— Neck (@kyleneck05) March 13, 2020
Bob Duffy, the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce CEO, praised Trump's decision to declare a national emergency after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency.
Good decision by @POTUS— Bob Duffy (@BobDuffyROC) March 13, 2020
NYS has already benefited by the steps taken by @NYGovCuomo following his “state of emergency “ declaration.
Strong leadership is key.@RochesterChambr
Trump declares national emergency over coronavirus crisis https://t.co/MoXMRQ0HyG
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also praised Trump.
Very supportive of President Trump’s declaration of a National Emergency. It’s the right next step to protect our citizens and our economy.
Also, GREAT action to overhaul our testing approach with public-private partnerships—millions more tests approved and available soon!— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) March 13, 2020
Several Trump supporters noted that Trump's declaration helped boost the stock market Friday afternoon.
The National Emergency declaration gives President Trump extraordinary powers vis a vis Congress. Trump can use it to streamline medical research &implementation, as well as in the financial markets &economy. Great!— Miro Tokarczyk (@miroslavtok) March 13, 2020
@realDonaldTrump Great Team for Virus response and good presser. Stock market is up but YOU MUST HALT SHORT SELLING IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT LET THE SWAMP SHORT OUT GAINS.— DiCristo Trump Won (@DiCristo13) March 13, 2020