As the coronavirus situation in America grows more severe, and large events continue to be postponed or canceled, President Trump is on the verge of declaring a national state of emergency. From the Times:
President Trump today will declare a national emergency, a senior administration official says, invoking the Stafford Act, a law that allows FEMA to coordinate disaster response and aid state and local governments.
Along with bringing in FEMA, the administration has vowed to speed up testing. Meanwhile, six states are poised to close all schools, Louisiana became the first state to postpone its primary, and a relief bill in Washington has stalled due to disagreements over paid sick leave. (As you might imagine, Republicans are the ones opposed to sick leave, calling it “too broad.”)
Here’s Trump explaining how he could use the Stafford Act, with a chilling kicker:
“We have very strong emergency powers under the Stafford Act,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday. “I have it memorized, practically, as to the powers in that act. And if I need to do something, I’ll do it. I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about.”
As for that testing:
The F.D.A. gave the Swiss health care giant Roche emergency permission to sell its three-and-a-half hour test to U.S. labs, and the Department of Health and Human Services said it was awarding over a million dollars to two companies, DiaSorin Molecular and Qiagen, to speed the development of one-hour tests.
The number of people tested in the U.S. is less than 15,000 total to date, compared to nations like South Korea that are testing 10,000 per day.
Trump’s announcement is expected at 3 p.m. eastern.