In a news conference Friday, March 13, afternoon, President Donald J. Trump declared a national emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have very strong emergency powers under the Stafford Act,” President Trump said Thursday, according to NPR. “I have it memorized, practically, as to the powers in that act. And if I need to do something, I’ll do it.”
NPR reports that the Stafford Act is a 1988 federal law that allows for assistance to states and localities during a disaster or emergency. Employing the Stafford Act would give the Federal Emergency Management Agency access to $40 billion in disaster relief funds to assist state and local governments in responding to the virus.
According to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, federal emergency declarations activate legal and programmatic responses from federal agencies which include activation of federal assistance to states in the form of financial, personnel, services, logistical and technical assistance. It also triggers emergency provisions in other laws including Social Security Act Section 1135 waivers and statutory immunities and liability protections.
It can also include easing regulatory requirements on individuals, organizations and state and local governments and even activate the National Response Framework and the National Incident Management Systemor other emergency response protocols and systems.