Two months after detecting first signs of COVID-19 on American soil, the US has started to take a leading position in the world in terms of funds and forces allocated to fight the epidemic. These efforts have intensified since President Donald Trump announced a state of emergency to improve the government's response to the outbreak.
Here is a shortlist of measures Washington has taken in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19, which has already infected tens of thousands of Americans:
- Initially the US only advised against non-essential travel to the countries most affected by the epidemic.
- However, once the COVID-19 threat became apparent, the White House introduced travel bans for foreign nationals from China, Iran, and European nations.
- American citizens who visited these countries could still return home but had to do so via specific airports with "enhanced" screening for the coronavirus infection.
- These Americans were also forced to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine to make sure they were not carrying a dormant virus.
COVID-19 Test Developments
- The first batch of coronavirus tests appeared in the US faster than in most other places, but, unfortunately, most of them were faulty and sometimes gave false results. This shortage was soon rectified as Vice President Mike Pence announced on 4 March that some 1.5 million tests would soon be available for patients in the country.
- The US government also issued funding for two companies developing rapid tests to detect COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration even deployed an automated coronavirus test unit in New York, one of the hardest hit cities in the county, thus allowing it to carry out tests in a matter of hours instead of days.
- In addition, President Trump announced an initiative to organise coronavirus testing at parking lots near major retailers such as Walmart, Target, CVS, and Walgreens.
Financial Aid Packages and Other Help
- Washington introduced a number of financial measures to help to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. Namely, an economic relief bill that provided paid emergency leave for workers signed on 18 March.
- An additional $1 trillion aid package aiming to help ordinary Americans cope with the costs of the ongoing crisis is in the works but is yet to be approved.
- The White House didn't spare military help either, directing two US Navy hospital ships, USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort, to be on standby to deploy to countries that have been hit hard by the epidemic.
- Trump also approved the Defence Production Act that provides measures to boost the production of goods needed to cope with the infection, specifically ventilators, masks, gloves, and other protective gear for doctors and nurses.