After previously downplaying the threat posed by the coronavirus, President Donald Trump declared the outbreak a national emergency on Friday.
The declaration by Trump would free up as much as $50 billion in additional funding to combat the outbreak and allow officials to waive certain regulations to accelerate testing and care for coronavirus patients.
Trump said during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden that he expects the U.S. to have 1.4 million coronavirus test kits available within a week and a total of 5 million kits within the next month.
The president said he is also working with private sector companies to develop “drive thru” testing facilities across the country.
However, Trump said he does not want everybody running out and taking the test, saying only people with certain symptoms should be tested.
The move by Trump comes as he has faced some criticism for his handling of the outbreak, with Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., saying that he has been calling for the president to make the declaration “for days.”
“Americans will support an emergency declaration to extend assistance to Americans who need it,” Schumer said in a post on Twitter.
The Democratic leader added, “But he must not overstep his authority or indulge his autocratic tendencies for purposes not truly related to this crisis.”
The impact of the outbreak has hit home for many Americans in recent days, as a number of major sporting events and concerts have been canceled.
Additionally, Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks revealed that he and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, have tested positive for the coronavirus.
(Photo: Gage Skidmore)
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