President Donald Trump has announced that he is declaring the Covid-19 a national emergency.
The decision comes as Washington struggles with providing Americans with relief and officials race to slow the spread of the outbreak.
Speaking from the Rose Garden, Mr Trump said: “I am officially declaring a national emergency.”
He said the emergency would open up 50 billion US dollars for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak.
Mr Trump said he was also giving US secretary of health and human services secretary Alex Azar emergency authorities to waive federal regulations and laws to give doctors and hospitals “flexibility” in treating patients.
Mr Trump spoke as negotiations continue between the White House and Congress on an aid package, but there was no announcement of a breakthrough, as House Democrats prepare to vote on their own measure on Friday.
“We will defeat this threat,” Mr Trump said.
“When America is tested America rises to the occasion.”
The president added: “This will pass.”
Mr Trump said he will “most likely” be tested for Covid-19 “fairly soon”, but says he has “no symptoms”.
Mr Trump later tweeted to say that several operators will suspend outbound cruises for 30 days at his request in light of the Covid-19 crisis.
Mr Trump tweeted: “At my request, effective midnight tonight, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and MSC have all agreed to suspend outbound cruises for thirty days. It is a great and important industry – it will be kept that way!”