What would a national emergency declaration by Trump do?

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump announced Friday that he is making an emergency declaration to address the coronavirus pandemic. It’s not the first time a president has used such a declaration to deal with a public health crisis, but it is rare. 

Trump made the announcement days after the World Health Organization formally declared the coronavirus a pandemic. The global death toll surpassed 5,000 and confirmed cases in the U.S. crept past 1,200, according to Johns Hopkins.

It came as his administration has been under scrutiny for its handling of the virus, particularly the distribution of coronavirus tests.     

Specifics of Trump’s declaration – which was expected to be different than the emergency he declared last year to free up funding for his border wall – were not yet fully clear. A federal “emergency” can come in many different flavors.

Here are some details about a president’s emergency powers.  

Didn’t Trump already declare an emergency back in January? 

The Trump administration declared a “public health” emergency in late January. That designation, technically made by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, made it easier for states to redirect staff responding to the virus. The announcement was made in tandem with a quarantine order for U.S. citizens returning from hard-hit areas of China. 

What the White House announced now is more substantial.

Trump has been blasting his predecessor, President Barack Obama, for not declaring “an emergency” fast enough in response to the 2009 Swine flu outbreak. But Obama actually did declare a public health emergency early in that outbreak, when there were only 20 known cases in the U.S.   

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