President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference Friday afternoon, freeing up billions of dollars in federal funding to combat the spread of the infectious disease.
The emergency declaration invokes the Stafford Act, which is a 1988 law allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deploy support teams and provide federal disaster funds to state and local municipalities.
President Trump said the move would "unleash the full power of the federal government" and provide up to $50 billion of federal funding to combat the outbreak. The declaration also waived rules that hindered critical access hospitals from properly responding to the virus and treating patients, such as limits on length of stays and number of beds.
During the news conference, Trump also announced a suspension of interest payments on student loans and a bulk purchase of oil to stock up the oil reserve.
According to an earlier report by Bloomberg News, the declaration was reportedly requested by Senate Democrats who urged the president earlier this week to invoke the Stafford Act in order to provide financial relief to state and local governments.
"An emergency declaration would allow a state to request a 75% federal cost-share for expenses that include emergency workers, medical tests, medical supplies, vaccinations, security for medical facilities, and more," the report stated.
President Trump has been ramping up his response to the global pandemic this week after facing criticism for his initial response to the virus. On Wednesday, Trump announced a temporary ban on travel to the U.S. from the virus' new epicenter in central Europe.
The emergency declaration is another significant step, as it is rarely issued. The last time an emergency declaration was declared over a public health crisis was in 2000 when President Bill Clinton issued the declaration in order to combat the West Nile Virus in New York and New Jersey.
The stock market jumps
As President Trump made the announcement Friday afternoon, the stock market, which has been thrashed recently amid coronavirus fears, recovered significantly.
At the closing bell Friday, The Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ, and the S&P 500 all jumped over 9% on the day.
Friday's gains marked the stock market's biggest rally since October 2008.
Editor's Note: This article has been updated with further details regarding President Trump's emergency declaration and news about the stock market jump.