“Today, I am officially declaring a national emergency. Two very big words,” he told reporters outside the White House Rose Garden Friday.
The action clears the way for up to $50 billion of support to be provided to local and state governments, he said.
Trump also ordered each state to set up emergency operations centres and each hospital to activate its emergency preparedness plan.
Trump announced a new public-private partnership to expand coronavirus testing capabilities, as his administration has come under fire for being too slow in making the test available.
The partnership will include drive-thru testing in some locations and an online portal to screen those seeking to get tested.
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Alex Azar, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, has been granted additional authority, Trump said.
He’ll be able to waive parts of laws and regulations to give health-care providers and hospitals “maximum flexibility to respond to the virus and to care for patients,” Trump said.
He also said Washington would be waiving the interest on federal student loans and purchasing strategic reserves of oil.
Congress has already approved a US$8.3-billion package to fight COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
There are more than 1,700 cases of COVID-19 in the United States.
–With files from the Associated Press