President Trump Declares National Emergency Due to COVID-19

Earlier today, President Donald Trump declared a National Emergency to combat coronavirus, indicating the declaration allows access to $50 billion in emergency funding. President Trump also announced a number of actions the federal Administration would be taking, which include but are not limited to:

  • Directing every state to set up emergency operation centers
  • Directing every hospital in the country to activate their emergency preparedness plan
  • Providing new authority to the United States Health and Human Services Secretary to waive laws to allow for maximum flexibility to providers to respond and care for patients
  • Waiving requirements restricting when patient can be moved to a nursing home
  • Waiving requirements limiting where hospitals can conduct activities
  • Providing greater flexibility for physicians
  • Waiving interest on student loans
  • Purchasing large quantities of oil

Joined by executives representing private labs and companies such as CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, President Trump announced efforts to expand testing capacity across the country. The President commended Google’s partnership and efforts underway to develop a website that would be available to the public to determine if testing is warranted and provide testing locations. He also announced partnerships with the private sector labs to accelerate testing capacity and lastly, announced partnerships with major stores to set up drive thru testing sites.

Vice President Pence slightly changed his messaging, moving away from “the risk to the American people is low” to now saying the “the risk of Americans becoming seriously ill is low.”

While the text of the declaration is limited to allowing the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to waive or modify requirements for Medicare, Medicaid, State Children’s Health Insurance programs, and HIPAA rules throughout the duration of the emergency declaration, the President alluded to a “paper” that would be forthcoming addressing the aforementioned actions. The emergency declaration dates back to March 1.