President Trump declared a national emergency over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on Friday and had the White House announce what steps are being taken to help quell the spread of the disease.
- The president is taking action that will give states, territories and tribes access to over $42 billion in existing funding to combat the virus, according to a White House press release.
- The Small Business Administration has also been given authority, and funding, to make over $7 billion in loans to qualifying small businesses to help bolster the economic recovery.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced guidance on limiting medically unnecessary visits to nursing homes to protect vulnerable elderly Americans.
- The Secretary of Education will be waiving interest on all student loans held by the federal government.
- The president is directing the Department of Energy to purchase large quantities of crude oil in an effort to boost the strategic reserve.
The White House claimed the president’s emergency declaration will give healthcare providers more flexibility to respond to the virus, by loosening regulations and waiving certain federal provisions through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The declaration will provide HHS the power to waive:
- Certain laws to enable telehealth, remote doctors’ visits and hospital check-ins
- Licensing requirements so doctors from other states can provide services in areas with the greatest need.
- Critical Access Hospital requirements to allow those hospitals to have more beds and longer lengths of stay
- The requirement of a three-day hospital stay, prior to admission to a nursing home.
- Rules hindering hospitals’ ability to bring additional physicians on board or obtain needed office space.
- Restrictions on where hospitals can care for patients.
The president is urging every state to set up emergency operational centers and is asking every hospital to activate its emergency preparedness plan.
The administration claimed to be rapidly expanding coronavirus testing across the nation and providing greater access to the tests in partnership with the private sector.
- The administration is also working with Google to develop a website that can determine whether someone needs to be tested for the virus or not. If they require a test, they are given the location of a facility nearby, where they can be examined.
HHS recently announced it is providing funding to help accelerate the development of two rapid diagnostic tests.
- The Food and Drug Administration is issuing emergency authorization for new commercial coronavirus tests that will help expand testing.
- And up to 2 million additional tests are expected to be available next week, according to the White House.