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President Trump declares a national emergency to ramp up coronavirus response

Under the Stafford Act, the president has the power to rush additional money and resources to the states.
Credit: AP
President Donald Trump speaks in an address to the nation from the Oval Office at the White House about the coronavirus Wednesday, March, 11, 2020, in Washington. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

WASHINGTON — First, the Trump administration restricted travel from China. Then, the president addressed the nation this week from the oval office and announced a European travel ban.

Coronavirus test kits are being distributed to state and local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control is racing to process them, and now private labs are stepping up to help.

Health leaders and media organizations are repeatedly reminding Americans to wash their hands and stay away from other people as much as possible. Large events and gatherings are being canceled across the country, theme parks are shutting their gates, and all the major sports league are suspending their seasons.

But despite all of that – COVID-19 appears to be spreading faster by the day. So, the administration appears ready to take the next big step.

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President Trump on Friday officially declared a national emergency.

Under the Stafford Act, which was signed into law in 1988, the president has the power to fire up the federal government’s emergency response engines and quickly speed up the response to the pandemic. According to CNN, that means activating FEMA to directly provide states with additional supplies, assist with patient transport and set up temporary medical facilities.

Such a move has been made before.

CNN reports former President Clinton issued an emergency declaration in 2000 in response to the spread of West Nile Virus.

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