Trump declares national emergency

44 states now affected by novel coronavirus
Posted on Mar 16 2020

U.S. President Donald J. Trump declared a national emergency last Friday, opening access for up to $50 billion in emergency relief funds to stop the further spread of the novel coronavirus, which has now affected 44 states.

“The action I am taking will open up access to up to $50 billion of very important and a large amount of money for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease,” Trump said during the press conference following his emergency declaration.

The United States now has 2,329 COVID-19 cases, with 50 total deaths. The CNMI has no reported cases to date.

Trump, under the declaration, urged states to set up emergency operations centers, and asked every hospital in the country to activate emergency preparedness plans.

“We’ll remove or eliminate every obstacle necessary to deliver our people the care that they need and that they’re entitled to. No resource will be spared. Nothing whatsoever,” the president stressed.

Relief for small businesses

Aside from health, Trump also extended emergency relief assistance to small business owners who are fiscally impacted by the pandemic.

“Effective immediately, the Small Business Administration will begin providing economic loans in affected states and territories. These low-interest loans will help small businesses overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus,” he said.

Following the declaration, SBA, under its COVID-19 Disaster Relief Funding, is now offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses substantially affected by the coronavirus.

SBA will issue an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration once they receive a request from CNMI Gov. Ralph DLG Torres. This declaration will make loans available to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations in the CNMI “to help alleviate economic injury caused by COVID-19.”

According to SBA, the loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that cannot be paid due to the virus’ impact.

$370K to CHCC for coronavirus

Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced an initial distribution with the $8.3 billion funding enabled by Congress last week through the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.

According to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), the CNMI will receive $369,765.90, and the money can be used for epidemiology, surveillance, laboratory, case identification, monitoring of travelers, data management, and equipment, supplies, and shipping.

The funding can also be used for infection control, surge staffing, emergency operations and coordination, and risk communication.

The reimbursement of allowable costs incurred for these activities from Jan. 20, 2020 to March 6, 2020 is also permitted.

The delegate also asked everyone in the Northern Marianas to take the precautions the CDCP has laid out in terms of practicing good hygiene, careful handling of food, being careful with meetings and travel, and staying home when feeling sick, or when there is a sick family member in their home.

“There is no vaccine nor any specific cure, so our best action now is to keep the coronavirus from spreading. It is easier to contain a fire when it starts on the stove than after it spreads to the whole house,” Sablan added.

Families first

Early morning Saturday, the U.S. House also overwhelmingly passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which would provide free COVID-19 testing to everyone, would secure paid leaves for those affected by the virus, and would strengthen Unemployment Insurance.

“The three most important parts of this bill are testing, testing, testing. This legislation facilitates free coronavirus testing for everyone, including the uninsured,” U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12th District) stated.

The legislator stressed that the outbreak can only be defeated if the U.S. has an accurate determination of its scale and scope, so that a precise, science-based response that is necessary can be pursued.

“As we develop our next steps, we will continue to listen to and benefit from the expertise of scientists, health care professionals, public health officials and community leaders, so that we can craft the most effective, evidence-based response,” she said.

Iva Maurin | Correspondent
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at
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