In response to an outbreak of the Covid-19 disease caused by the new strain of corona virus, US President Donald Trump has just declared a national emergency.
In addition, the United States will open a federal budget that will allow states to spend up to $ 42.6 billion to combat epidemics, including testing, medical supplies and operations. activities of medical examination and treatment facilities.
“I officially declare a national emergency from now on. Those are two very important words “ , President Trump said in Speech at Rose Garden.
Declaring a national emergency in the United States is a move in the Stafford Act, which governs the United States federal response to medical disasters and natural disasters. The last time the United States declared this state of emergency was in 2000, under President Bill Clinton, when he was dealing with an outbreak of West Nile virus in New York and New Jersey.
What does the United States declare a national emergency because of Covid-19?
Democratic members of the US Senate called on Mr. Trump to consider this option earlier this week, amid the fact that both the federal and local governments are confused when dealing with a flood of patients. You may need medical testing and care in the Covid-19 epidemic.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the number of virus infections in the US is and will continue to rise. Based on its level of infection – experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of Americans could become ill in the next few months – put strain on the health system across the country.
President Trump’s decision to declare a state of emergency is significant. On the one hand, it will open up resources that the United States can use as it struggles with the need for medical care and support. Besides, it is also a recognition by President Trump of the seriousness of the Covid-19 epidemic, contrary to what he has shown before to lower it.
What does the US declare a state of emergency?
The greatest impact of this statement is that it will help states increase funding to address the need to pay medical staff, operate facilities and treat patients.
Under the Stafford Act passed in 1988, once the US president declares a state of emergency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can transfer money from a $ 42 billion disaster disaster fund. to state governments.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a law professor at Stonon University said: “Funding from the federal state could strengthen the state and local resilience when affected by the new corona virus, which has just been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.“.
According to a letter from Democrats in the Senate earlier this week, a U.S. emergency declaration means the federal government will pay 75% of the cost for specific resources that help small The state responded to the corona virus, including investments in medical equipment and vaccines.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the number of virus infections in the US is and will continue to rise.
Usually, a state of emergency declaration is required and promoted by state governors – by law, but the president can also unilaterally declare a state of emergency. “when it is necessary to save people, prevent their suffering, or minimize serious damage, “Explained Liza Goitein at the Brennan Justice Center, New York University School of Law.
This emergency declaration is expected to differ from the one Trump made last year, in order to get funding for the wall that runs along the southern border with Mexico. That action is carried out under the National Emergency Act, which also allows the president to take other extreme moves such as gaining control of the internet.
The Stafford Act, meanwhile, is specifically designed to guide governments, state and local governments in the United States to work together in situations where public health is threatened by natural disasters, epidemics. .
As Reuters pointed out, this statement will also be different from that of the US Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year. At that time, the agency considered the increase in corona virus cases one “a public health emergency“, allowing the government to impose travel restrictions on citizens returning from China.
The Stafford Act has previously been used to address the epidemic caused by West Nile virus
It must also be said that this is not the first time President Trump has resorted to the Stafford Act. During his tenure, he used it when wildfires broke out in California and Florida suffered heavy damage from a storm. The Stafford Act then allowed the federation to respond in both situations, providing additional financial support to the states.
“These laws are still cited quite often, several times a year“Keith Keith Whittington, a professor of political science at Princeton University told Vox.”Just a few days ago, the president also called on the government to support Tennessee after a major tornado. “.
The Stafford Act has also been used in the past to help the United States cope with a medical disaster: President Clinton declared a national emergency in 2000, in response to the spread of the West Nile virus. in two states of this country.
At that time, the federal government may have disbursed up to $ 5 million to support mosquito control efforts.
President Barack Obama has also used the National Emergency Act to declare a state of emergency to address swine flu in 2009. This decision allows the federal government to make drastic and drastic medical reactions. For example, hospitals can treat swine flu patients in separate locations.
Now, the decision to reuse the Stafford Act is just one step the US government can take to respond to the corona virus. The country’s parliament is also considering issuing new rules that allow people to take paid sick leave and ensure free testing of the entire population, regardless of whether or not the insured.
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