National Emergency Declaration in Response to COVID-19

On March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. This allows FEMA to get involved with the federal government’s response and access to FEMA’s disaster relief fund, which has a balance of more than $40 billion. Funding from FEMA will help states cover items such as emergency medical care and temporary medical facilities; supplying food, water, medicine, and other supplies; and management control and reduction of immediate threats to public health and safety.

The emergency declaration also allows the Department of Health and Human Services to waive certain requirements under Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program in order to get more people covered by health insurance. And the White House has made agreements with major companies like Target, Walmart and Google to help increase access (drive-thru style) to and awareness (mapping information) of COVID-19 testing.

In addition, the President announced a major initiative that affects college students; the Department of Education is waiving interest payments on all federal student loans “until further notice.” This relief will help the more than 42 million Americans who owe more $1.5 trillion in outstanding federal student loans.