On Friday, President Trump declared a national emergency amid the coronavirus pandemic. Evoking the Stafford Act, the President is empowering the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide more assistance to state and municipal governments. This will free up billions of dollars worth of funding through the Disaster Relief Fund.

According to Johns Hopkins University. there are more than 1,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. (as of Friday) and the President's declaration is aimed at keeping that number as low as possible. Critics have suggested the number could be much higher if testing were more widely available.

The Democratic Party has been asking the President to make this move. In a letter sent to President Trump earlier this week the party outlined how this action would open up funding for testing, medical supplies and other emergency needs.


What President Trump said

"I am officially declaring a national emergency. Two very big words," said President Trump on Friday. "We've been working very hard on this, we've made tremendous progress," he explained, suggesting that closing borders and limiting international travel has helped prevent the spread of the virus (however, officials with the World Health Organization suggest closing borders right now provides a false comfort and can waste resources that could be spent protecting health care workers and surveilling the spread of disease.)

The President said tens of billions can now be used to fight the spread of coronavirus and that Telehealth and partnerships with the private sector, especially with Roche, will be important for testing. Roche was just granted emergency clearance by the Food and Drug Administration for a new coronavirus test. The two previous tests used in the U.S. were developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health (the government declined to use a previous test approved World Health Organization in January).

The new Roche test can reportedly be turned around faster than the previous tests, but the President cautioned that he does not want people to be tested unless health professionals believe it is necessary.

"We therefore expect up to a half a million additional tests will be available next week," he stated, adding that more drive-through testing will be available and that Google is helping develop a website to help people determine if they need to be tested.

"Our overriding goal is to stop the spread of this virus...again we don't want everyone taking this test, it's totally unnecessary," he said before introducing Dr. Deborah Birx, who added more details about how the Google website and the private sector testing will work.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization also spoke to media Friday and he does not describe testing as "totally unnecessary." He told reporters "you can't fight a virus if you don't know where it is," and that nations must "find, isolate, test and treat every case to break the chains of COVID transmission. Every case we find and treat limits the expansion of the disease."

Representatives from Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens also spoke about how the retailers will help facilitate testing and supply safe shopping experiences. Vice President Mike Pence explained that Americans will be able to use the Google-developed website described by President Trump and Dr. Birx to determine if they need a test and then go to participating retailers for drive-up testing.

What this means for parents

It means that we should keep doing what we are doing. A "national emergency" sounds scary but it is really just a recognition of the seriousness of the pandemic as outlined by the WHO.

We need to keep following the CDC's recommendations and those of local health authorities and continue to prioritize social distancing and hand hygiene.

The President's declaration means state governments can activate emergency plans and the health secretary can waive regulations if they believe they could hinder health professionals' response capabilities (details on this are not specific at this point) and open up more opportunities for testing.

The emergency declaration comes as The Department of Health and Human Services assigned assistant secretary, Adm. Brett P. Giroir, to oversee testing efforts. "We are working to ensure that every American who needs a test for #COVID19 will receive it. Honored to lead the coordination of COVID-19 diagnostic testing efforts among #PublicHealth service agencies, including @CDCgov and @US_FDA," Giroir tweeted Friday.

While testing proceeds, student loan interest payments are being paused. "I've waived interest on all student loans held by federal government agencies...until further notice," Trump told the country Friday, adding that the energy secretary to purchase will be purchasing oil for a reserve.

Bottom line: Follow the CDC's recommendations, wash your hands with hot water and soap and pay attention to the recommendations of your state, local health authorities and school divisions.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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