President Donald Trump declared a US national emergency on Saturday over the rapidly spreading coronavirus that has infected more than 138,000 people around the world and left more than 5,000 dead.
The coronavirus’ effect on daily life has deepened across the globe. This was first observed in a number of countries, with the World Health Organization (WHO) naming Europe the new epicenter for the pandemic.
More schools and businesses were closed, the global sporting calendar was left in tatters, and people were confronted with greater restrictions on where to go.
“To unleash the full power of the federal government to this effort today, I am officially declaring a national emergency — two very big words,” Trump said in remarks at the White House Rose Garden, adding that the US situation could deteriorate and “the next eight weeks are critical.”
Trump, whose policy provides states and localities with $50 billion in federal assistance, had been criticized by some analysts for being sluggish and inefficient in responding to the crisis and playing down the threat.
The latest steps came two days after Trump announced travel restrictions that would block most people from continental Europe from entering the US. Although Britain was excluded from all the nations, Trump said on Friday that may change because infections had “precipitously risen” there.
The president, who was photographed last Saturday with a Brazilian official who tested positive for the coronavirus at his private Florida club, said he himself would probably be tested “fairly soon,” a reversal of his previous position. Yet Trump, 73, said he didn’t intend on isolating himself, adding that he had no symptoms.
Travel bans have battered airlines and transport firms around the world as this week’s panic selling has reached capital markets.