President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday afternoon over the coronavirus outbreak following a week of cancellations, suspensions and growing case numbers that unsettled Americans nationwide.
The move frees up billions of dollars in federal funds, Trump said, and sets the Federal Emergency Management Agency in motion.
The President invoked the Stafford Act, which is the statutory authority for "most federal disaster response activities." The Stafford Act gives access to the funds and the national emergency gives access to authorities, according to a person familiar.
Terminal crush: Air passengers caught in Trump's travel ban
Massive lines ballooned across several U.S. airports this weekend as European travelers made a mad dash for home — a situation created by the quick rollout of the Trump administration’s European travel ban and exacerbated chronic airport staffing shortages.
U.S. officials promised Sunday to address the most visible sign of the chaos — the jam-packed terminals where Americans returning to the U.S. are waiting hours for virus screening at several major airports, including Chicago O'Hare, Dallas Fort Worth and Dulles International. But those lines are just one of a series of pressure points that have undermined the administration’s efforts to keep the virus from entering the country — and now threaten to hasten its spread: