Why did Trump declare an emergency today?

Donald Trump declares a national emergency

Donald Trump initially tried to downplay the danger posed by the corona virus in the United States. After the first cases, the US president was confident that the number of infections would soon drop to almost zero. Instead, the number skyrocketed.

Now Trump announced in a speech in the garden of the White House: "In order to develop the full strength of the government, I officially declare a national emergency". This step gives the President extensive powers. Among other things, the measure enables access to a fund with funds for disaster relief. Now up to $ 50 billion could be mobilized against the pandemic, Trump said. He called on all states to set up emergency centers. Every US hospital should be on alert. His health minister is also given more powers.

At the same time, Trump threatened to extend an entry ban against travelers from European countries to Great Britain. The number of infections in Great Britain has risen sharply in the past 24 hours, the US President said at the press conference. He was also criticized for the previous exception of the British from the entry ban.

US Congress approves aid package

In rare agreement, Republicans and Democrats in the US Congress have ensured that a multi-billion dollar aid package for families could be launched. The law was passed with 363 votes to 40. At the beginning of next week, the US Senate, the second chamber of parliament in which Trump's Republicans have a majority, is expected to approve. Then the president has to sign the law.

 

Opposition Leader Pelosi: Rare Agreement with Republicans

The aid package is the result of intensive negotiations between the majority leader in the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It is intended to increase social security when employees cannot go to work because they are sick themselves or have to look after infected family members. In these cases, there should now be continued payment of wages in the event of illness and the option of family leave for a period of two weeks. Firms receive tax credits to cover the cost. In addition, employees should have the option of unpaid leave of up to three months.

Probably more than 2000 infections

The opposition Democrats had accused Trump of failing to deal with the corona virus and called for a national emergency. At least 47 people in the United States have died from the virus-induced lung disease COVID-19. More than 2000 infections have been registered according to a count by the AFP news agency.

However, the actual number of infected people is likely to be significantly higher. Due to the lack of test options, only a few people in the USA have so far been examined to see whether they are infected compared to other countries. The lack of testing is one of the main criticisms of the Trump administration. Many people with symptoms of illness fail to get checked.

US corona test kit: so far only a few Americans have been examined

The number of coronavirus tests should be "significantly" increased through cooperation with the private sector, Trump announced in front of the White House. The US authorities have already given the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche the green light to launch a new and faster test method. Trump said this could make half a million new tests available in the U.S. early next week. It could be five million within a month.

Trump also said that he would now "probably" submit to a test himself. The US President had come into contact with one of his employees at a meeting with Brazil’s head of state Jair Bolsonaro last weekend, at whom the virus was later detected. So far, however, the White House has not considered a test at Trump to be necessary. He himself stressed that he had no symptoms of any illness.

Crisis meeting in the Chancellery

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her specialist ministers sat down at a table with top representatives from business associations and unions on Friday evening to discuss ways to mitigate the effects of the Corona crisis. During the meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, which lasted several hours, Merkel promised to do everything necessary to stabilize the economy in this particular situation.

Parked Lufthansa jets (in Berlin): "Effects of the crisis increasingly dramatic"

According to a government spokesman, the focus was on sectors that are particularly hard hit by the upheaval - i.e. tourism, gastronomy, as well as aviation and shipping. Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr also took part in the meeting. He had previously told his employees in a video message that the effects of the crisis were becoming increasingly dramatic. The airline would consider state aid in the event of further tightening.

There was a high degree of satisfaction with the first measures taken by the government so far, it was praised by participants in the crisis round in the Chancellery. This applies above all to the regulations on short-time work benefits and liquidity assistance.

Praise from the BDI

"The announced package contains many elements for the current and upcoming challenges," said the President of the Federation of German Industries, Dieter Kempf, after the conversation. "It allows any possible financing problem in companies to be tackled. It is praiseworthy that the government does not set any financial limits in advance. So there is no need to worry about finite funds." Finance and economics ministers had stressed that they would consider additional economic policy measures as the situation arises.

Corona consultations in the Chancellery: Stabilize the situation

Obviously there was also criticism - namely because countries like Denmark, Austria or the Czech Republic have unilaterally closed their borders. This would also jeopardize the supply chains for German companies.

In total, the round in the Chancellery included around 30 participants. In addition to Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Economics Minister Peter Altmaier, Health Minister Jens Spahn and Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer also took part in the discussion. Scholz emphasized that Germany could afford the help and must show leadership. They want to meet again in a few weeks in this group to see whether the relief measures have taken effect or where they should be refilled.

AR / ack (afp, rtr, dpa, ap)