President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency in the US over the coronavirus outbreak which has led to over 5000 deaths across the world.
As of Friday, the US had surpassed 1,700 cases of the virus while the death toll had reached 41.
The move will allow the Trump administration to utilise the Stafford Act, the federal law that governs disaster-relief efforts, to provide emergency funding to state and local governments.
“To unleash the full power of the federal government … I am officially declaring a national emergency,” Trump said in a televised address from the White House.
“The action I am taking will open up $50 billion for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease. Our overriding goal is to stop the spread of the virus.”
Trump also said the move will waive a number of other requirements meant to benefit doctors and fight the coronavirus pandemic.
He ordered every state to set up emergency operation centers to help stem the spread of the disease, and announced that he was empowering the secretary of health and human services to waive certain laws and regulations to ensure the virus can be contained and patients treated.
He also said there were plans to allow “drive-through” virus tests.
Trump’s declaration came as many public and private institutions have taken action — including canceling major events, temporarily banning large gatherings, closing schools and telling people to work from home — in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.