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LIVE: President Trump Declares National Emergency Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic

President Trump declared a national emergency Friday afternoon amid growing concern about the coronavirus outbreak across the United States. The move, widely expected, frees up $50 billion dollars for states to deal with the crisis.

Follow live coverage of the debate, with real-time analysis from NPR reporters.

The president had declined to confirm earlier Thursday whether he would make the declaration, an action that would help ease the distribution of federal funds to help state and local governments during national catastrophes.

"We have very strong emergency powers under the Stafford Act," Trump said Thursday in the Oval Office. "I have it memorized, practically, as to the powers in that act. And if I need to do something, I'll do it."

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The Stafford Act is a 1988 federal law that allows for assistance to states and localities during a disaster or emergency.
The coronavirus is wreaking havoc across the nation as fears are causing school closures and sports cancellations. Mass crowds are rushing to local stores to stockpile basic goods and finding some empty shelves.
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 responding to the virus.
The money during a pandemic can be used for emergency medical care, food and medicine. 

The money would also be in addition to the $8.3 billion provided by an emergency spending bill Trump signed on March 6.

Trump tweeted about the press conference as White House officials continued to negotiate with lawmakers on a bill that could help mitigate the economic impact of the virus.