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Trump declares coronavirus a national emergency

U.S. President Donald Trump stands with Vice President Mike Pence and members of his coronavirus task force during a news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency over the fast-spreading coronavirus, opening the door to providing what he said was about $50 billion in federal aid to fight the disease.

Trump made the announcement at a Rose Garden news conference.

Trump said he was declaring the national emergency in order to “unleash the full power of the federal government.” He urged every state to set up emergency centers to help fight the virus.

Pressure has been mounting for Trump to declare an infectious disease emergency under the 1988 law that would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 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.

 

(Reporting by Steve Holland; additional reporting by Lisa Lambert and Susan Heavey, Editing by Franklin Paul and Bill Berkrot)

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