President Donald Trump today declared a national state of emergency — a measure aimed at unleashing “the full power of the federal government” by tapping its ability to offer up to $50 billion in aid to state and local municipalities.
Backed by several retail and pharmaceutical company chiefs, including Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and Target executive chief Brian Cornell, the president’s address this afternoon saw the U.S. leader take a marked shift from his earlier posturing on coronavirus, outlining a more serious, detailed response to the virus that’s now a pandemic.
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McMillon was the first retail leader to take the podium after Trump. Walmart’s top executive said that the retailer’s parking lots will reserve space for coronavirus testing and that the company will aid in other coronavirus preventative measures as needed.
“We’re keeping our stores open to serve the American consumer who’s rapidly stocking up on household essentials,” said Target’s CEO, adding that normally his firm competes with Walmart but now they are united against a sole competitor in the coronavirus.
Walgreens president Richard Ashworth and CVS EVP Thomas Moriarty were also among the execs present at the press conference. Both pharmaceutical industry leaders similarly noted their commitment to support the U.S. government’s efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus via more aggressive testing.
“We will turn a corner on this virus,” Trump said, adding that, “some of the doctors say, ‘[The virus] will wash through.'”
“In time of hardship, the true character of America shines through,” Trump added. “We will get through this altogether. So much progress has already been made.”
The markets reacted positively to Trump’s change in tone: After a historically tough week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up nearly 9.4%, or 1,985 points. The S&P 500 gained 9.2%, or 230 points, while the Nasdaq Composite jumped 9.3%, or 672 points.
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