US President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in order to make more funds available for fighting the fallout of the disease while reflecting symbolically the seriousness of the situation.
Trump said on Friday that upto $50 billion will be available to states and territories to meet the challenge.
He said that the rules would be made flexible to allow doctors and hospitals to deal with the crisis.
The declaration came as the number of coronavirus cases in the US hit 1,700 with 41 deaths.
He declared the emergency under a 1988 law for funneling aid to states and local administrations.
Senate Republican leader Chuck Schumer has said that under the law known as the Stafford Act, $42.6 billion could be immediately available from the Disaster Relief Fund.
Trump has been under criticism for his handling of the coronavirus crisis by not responding soon enough or adequately.
Schumer and 35 other senators had written to Trump on Wednesday asking him to declare the state of emergency to make the funds available.
Earlier on Friday met with industry leaders to discuss the response to the coronavirus.