President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday over the COVID-19 outbreak, invoking emergency powers which will bring more federal aid for states and municipalities. The measures gives the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authority to coordinate the government’s disaster relief.
Earlier in the day, White House coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said a complete US shutdown is ‘on the table’ and warned the crisis could last two months!
BREAKING: Trump has declared a national emergency on the coronavirus pandemic. pic.twitter.com/jlMoMT3Svw— CNBC (@CNBC) March 13, 2020
The news comes as the entire world seems to have gone into complete panic mode, shutting down schools, sporting events, and major public gatherings.
The following actions were announced during the speech
- All hospitals have been asked to immediately put emergency preparedness plans in place.
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services can waive medical laws to help in emergency response.
- Google to develop website to streamline COVID-19 screenings. People will check-in on website and find a drive-thru testing facility.
- Walmart parking lots to be used for drive-thru testing facilities.
- Strategic oil reserves to be increased.
- All unnecessary medical procedures to be cancelled.
Legal Questions on National Emergency Powers
Legal scholars are already questioning the order, asking how it will affect American’s civil liberties. These types of tensions are nothing new, and a number of Presidents have used these powers to suspend civil liberties and implement controversial measures that to this day are still hotly debated.
President Lincoln took the extreme steps of suspending habeas corpus during the American Civil War. Later, President Roosevelt authorized the detention and internment of somewhere around 100,000 Japanese-Americans, possibly one of the largest constitutional assaults in our country’s history. Finally, President Truman tried to use emergency powers to nationalize a steel mill to supply our armed forces in Korea.
But Elizabeth Goiten, the director for liberty and national security at the Brennan Center for Justice, said using such laws to respond to a Covid-19 pandemic could be justified.
“[T]here are such things as real emergencies, and there are legal authorities that can be very helpful in dealing with them,” she said on Twitter. “A Stafford Act emergency declaration would provide resources and flexibility to public health/health care institutions fighting the coronavirus.”
National Guard Already Mobilizing
Even before the order, the National Guard had already mobilized in several states. At least 400 National Guard personnel have already been activated across six states. The governors of Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, New York, Rhode Island and Washington have all activated components of their Army and Air National Guard. California and Maryland are also expected to activate the National Guard in their states’ efforts today.
How to Prepare for Coronavirus Chaos and The National Emergency
We’ve seen panic and supply shortages at stores throughout the country, Cities admitting they have plans for forced quarantines, National Guard deployments and lockdowns in New York and mass panic throughout the country; in light of today’s declaration of National Emergency and Fauci’s comments, think we need to start to prepare for the very real possibility that local, state and even the entire country could be shut down, where all travel is severely restricted – possibly by force and martial law.