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Trump Announces Emergency Powers As US COVID-19 Death Toll Surges

Publish On: 19 Mar, 2020 09:20 AM | Updated   |   Shivalik  

As a self-proclaimed "wartime President", Donald Trump has announced that he's invoking emergency powers which will allow private sector capacity to be utilized in responding to the deadly coronavirus pandemic which has already claimed the lives of over130 people in the US.

Trump said he's invoking the Defense Production Act  "in case we need it" as the country braces for a steep spike in COVID-19 cases. 

With these emergency powers, the Trump administration can pull on the country's installed industrial base to swiftly produce materials needed during a national crisis.

Briefing reporters at the White House on Wednesday, Trump said America's battle against the "Chinese virus" is "like a war".

"It's a very tough situation", Trump said on the day of chilling economic impact when Detroit's big three automakers - Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler - all decided to pack up their factories over coronavirus fears. With this big blow, close to 150,000 workers are going to be put out of labour.

Trump also said he's sending a Navy ship to NY City, which has the most important cluster of cases in the US.

The United States government has also decided to "suspend foreclosures and evictions" through April because of the looming threat of huge scale unemployment threatens many Americans.

Earlier on the same day, Trump and Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced closing the US-Canada border, the longest in the world, for everything apart from the bare essential personnel and trade.

Bracing for the approaching economic bloodbath, the Trump administration is pushing forward a $500 billion economic relief plan which proposes direct cash payments to Americans within fortnight , pending Congress approval. If the plan is approved, the primary cheques are expected to drop in on April 6.

On Wednesday, the White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx cautioned that the number of individuals diagnosed is probably going to increase dramatically in the next few days as testing capacity ramps up.

It is now nearly 60 days since the first US case surfaced and testing at scale remains a problem across the country till date.

Birx today underlined a comparatively new theme in what we all know about the virus - its transmission from hard surfaces. We're still working out how much is by human to human transmission and how much from surfaces", she said.

"We've not seen significant mortality in children", she said.

"Don't expose yourself to surfaces outside the home", Birx urged Americans.

All week, the White House task force has been calling on "younger" Americans, especially millennials, to follow the newest social distancing guidelines and stop congregating in groups.

Hospitals, which are fearing a tsunami of cases coming in as a result of the increased testing capacity, are asked to cancel all elective surgeries.