By Marina Fang
President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency, a step that would accelerate the federal government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, after weeks of an inadequate response that helped let the coronavirus spread rapidly throughout much of the country.
The declaration will allocate up to $50 billion in disaster relief funding to states, effective immediately, Trump said.
The president and his administration have faced intense criticism for delays in testing for the new coronavirus.
Many states and municipalities have reported a backlog in testing or an inability to test people who suspect they have contracted the virus.
The White House has also reportedly pushed to classify top-level coronavirus meetings, a move that has hampered the government’s response to the outbreak.
Trump himself has created confusion and disseminated false information.
During a primetime address on Wednesday, he issued a ban on European travel, but subsequently had to announce several clarifications.
He has also frequently contradicted guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and downplayed the pandemic’s effects.
The travel ban was an illustration of the ways Trump has treated the coronavirus as a foreign invader rather than a domestic health crisis.
He and his allies have used racist and nativist rhetoric to describe the pandemic, and much of his response has focused on closing borders and restricting travel rather than addressing problems with the US health care system.
Trump opened his press conference Friday by praising his response to the pandemic, claiming it was better “when compared to other places around the world,” touting “our closing of the borders” and claiming experts told him his ban on travel from China “saved a lot of lives.