Donald Trump coronavirus: US to declare national emergency – president to address nation

The President is expected to make the announcement at 3pm EST (7pm UK time). Saleha Mohsin, Bloomberg news reporter, said sources told her Mr Trump would declare the emergency when he holds a press conference at the White House this afternoon. She tweeted: “Trump to declare national emergency via the Stafford Act over coronavirus at his 3pm presser.” 

By declaring the emergency, Mr Trump will open the door to providing more federal aid to fight the disease. 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

Pressure has been mounting for the Republican leader to declare an infectious disease emergency under a 1988 law that would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide disaster funds to state and local governments and to deploy support teams. 

The power is rarely used. 

Former President Bill Clinton in 2000 declared such an emergency for West Nile Virus.

There are 1,832 confirmed cases of the viral disease in the US. 

On Friday Mr Trump is set to meet with major laboratory company executives to discuss efforts to ramp up testing for the coronavirus, two sources briefed on the matter said, as the outbreak in the country widened.

Officials from Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc, Quest Diagnostics Inc, Lab Corp and others are expected to attend, the officials said on condition of anonymity. 

The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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The pace of American testing for the highly contagious virus that is sweeping the world has been heavily criticised. 

Mr Trump said on Friday that testing in the US will soon happen on a large scale, but did not provide any details.

On Thursday, the top US official on infectious diseases, Anthony Fauci, told Congress that people cannot get tests for the coronavirus easily and the country’s testing system is not meeting the needs of Americans.

The United States has tested a much smaller percentage of people than other major countries with significant outbreaks of coronavirus.

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Mr Fauci told MSNBC he expects to see testing availability ramp up within a week.

On Wednesday Mr Trump announced a 30-day ban on all flights from Europe. 

The UK is exempt from the ban. 

It applies to all foreign nationals who have been in Europe’s open-border Schengen Area and will come into effect at midnight on Friday. 

There are fears that COVID-19 will grind worldwide economic activity to a halt.

The Trump administration is not considering broad relief from import tariffs on Chinese goods to ease economic pain from the coronavirus, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday. 

His comments dashed the hopes of industry and some lawmakers.

President Trump, however, would likely consider some specific exemptions to aid small businesses hurt by the virus, Mr Mnuchin told reporters at the White House.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was “looking at additional exemptions for companies that are particularly hit and have issues with the virus,” Mr Mnuchin said. 

“To the extent that there are company-specific issues, we will address that with the president and react accordingly.”

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