Trump declares virus pandemic a national emergency

Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 12: U.S. President Donald Trump talks to journalists while hosting Prime Minister of Ireland Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office at the White House March 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Taoiseach Varadkar is in Washington for the annual celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and to participate in the traditional Shamrock Bowl presentation. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump is announcing that he is declaring the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency.

He is speaking to the American people from the Rose Garden as Washington struggles with providing Americans with relief and officials race to slow the spread of outbreak.

Negotiations continue between the White House and Congress on an aid package, but there was no announcement of a breakthrough, as House Democrats prepare to vote on their own measure Friday.

Federal officials announced a new “testing czar,” emergency approval of a new high-volume testing system and a hotline for resource-stretched labs.

Those moves came a day after one of the government’s top health officials called the initial testing effort “a failing” and health care professionals, politicians and patients across the country complained about lack of access to testing in the U.S. Public confusion persisted over who should be tested and how to get checked for the disease.

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