Trump Declares National Emergency Over Coronavirus Outbreak

The president says the move will allow up to $50 billion in emergency funding to be used to address the ongoing crisis.

President Trump declared a national emergency in the U.S. Friday afternoon over the spread of coronavirus, saying the government will use up to $50 billion in emergency funds to address the crisis at federal, state and local levels.

The declaration comes as the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. exceeded 1,700, though health experts warn that the actual number of cases is likely much higher. Frustrations have been mounting over slow testing in the U.S., especially compared to other countries, which makes it difficult to know the real scope of the outbreak. The reported death toll as of Friday afternoon is 41, according to The New York Times.

Watch his press conference below:

Trump said the government will waive interest on student loans owed to federal agencies until further notice. While welcoming the move as a step forward, many are arguing for the suspension of all student loans, period (not just interest), like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is reportedly considering it.

The Friday press conference caps a turbulent week for the White House that started with Trump downplaying the seriousness of the outbreak. On Wednesday, the president delivered a national address from the Oval Office which contained major errors that the White House then had to walk back, including a partial 30-day travel ban on flights from Europe to the U.S. that sent people at airports scrambling.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been in nonstop negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin over a House bill that would give financial aid to people affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Benefits in the package include free coronavirus testing, expanded paid sick leave, and temporary expansions in food stamp programs.