US President Donald Trump officially declared a national emergency on Friday as the number of novel coronavirus cases continued to grow in the country. He said that the emergency action would “unleash the full power of the federal government” and called on Americans to band together in a time of national strain.
Speaking during an afternoon Rose Garden event, Trump gathered American retail executives to announce they were donating resources to institute drive-through testing at locations across the country, collected on a new online portal that he said would available on Sunday evening. Invoking the Stafford Act, Trump said the move frees up billions of dollars in federal funds.
However, Trump’s press conference declaring the emergency, where he unveiled the members of his coronavirus task force, did very little to reduce the panic. It, in fact, became a subject of trolling. The president shook hands with a number of high-ranking officials from various corporations — doing exactly the opposite of the social distancing people have been urged to practice.
Doctors: Avoid shaking hands and touching common spaces
Trump Coronavirus Response Team: pic.twitter.com/OBCmp1orje
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) March 13, 2020
But this was not the only thing that became the butt of jokes online. During the conference, his administration’s coronavirus response team showed a flowchart for a website that would screen online visitors for COVID-19 testing. But it soon became fodder for memes.
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) March 13, 2020
The “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” team presented Twitterati with a clean board and asked all to come up with some photoshop fun and netizens took on the challenge head on.
— Jason Parini (@jason_parini) March 13, 2020
— Jen (@jenvargas) March 13, 2020
— Richard “Flatten the Curve” Sima, Ph.D. (@richardsima) March 13, 2020
— ∣𝕍𝕀 𝕖 𝕣 𝕖 🇩🇪🐝🕶 (@_kakistokratie_) March 13, 2020
One for all you hoarders out there pic.twitter.com/48HEf5l1bI
— David Self-Quarantined Since 2018 (@David52556) March 13, 2020
— Steve (@barkoh) March 13, 2020
— Mark Allen (@MarkAll14843373) March 13, 2020
— Brian Sales (@iambriansales) March 13, 2020
— kyle g. (@kyleg182) March 13, 2020
— Brenna Parker 👩🏻💻 (@BrennaParker1) March 13, 2020
— Ethan Rhoad (@EthanRhoad) March 13, 2020
A new, more frightening mutation of the virus has been discovered. We have until November 3, 2020 to get rid of it before it destroys mankind. pic.twitter.com/l4rsy04pVx
— Gary Cascio (@garycascio) March 13, 2020
— Nαpѕмeαr 😏 (@napsmear) March 14, 2020
— BlueHeelerWave2020 (@gritzygravy) March 13, 2020
Trump, however, rejected criticism over delays in making testing available as his administration has come under fire for being too slow to respond. “I don’t take responsibility at all” for the slow rollout of testing, Trump said during the conference.
Trump administration’s health officials also claimed that a new website “facilitated” by Google would guide users through a series of questions to determine whether they should be screened. Verily, a health care company of Google, confirmed that it is working to “help triage” people for screening and said the effort will first launch in the San Francisco Bay area. The company however, offered no details about what the tool would look like or when it would launch.
The House approved legislation early Saturday to provide direct relief to Americans suffering physically, financially and emotionally from the coronavirus pandemic. As the House prepared to vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi trumpeted the hard-fought package that will provide free testing, sick pay for workers, enhanced unemployment benefits and bolstered food programs.
[with inputs from AP]
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