President Trump has declared a National Day of Prayer on Sunday, saying that America “has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these.”
Shortly after declaring a national emergency over the spread of the coranvirus on Friday, Trump took to Twitter to make the prayer announcement.
“It is my great honor to declare Sunday, March 15th as a National Day of Prayer. We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these,” Trump tweeted. “No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith. Together, we will easily PREVAIL!”
The U.S. has a National Day of Prayer, which this year is scheduled for May 7. As president, Trump has supported religious liberty and called for greater freedom of prayer, while his administration strengthened prayer in public schools and proposed rules to make sure the federal government doesn’t discriminate against religious organizations.
At his last State of the Union, Trump also said: “In America we celebrate faith. We cherish religion. We lift our voices in prayer and we raise our sights to the glory of God.”
His announcement of a National Day of Prayer came after holding a press conference in the White House Garden, saying, “I am officially declaring a national emergency.” He said the presidential directive will make available more than $50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Trump said he was also giving Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar emergency authorities to waive federal regulations and laws to give doctors and hospitals “flexibility” in treating patients,” the Associated Press reported.
He also announced a new public-private partnership to expand coronavirus testing capabilities, as his administration has come under fire for being too slow in making the test available. The partnership will include drive-thru testing in some locations and an online portal to screen those seeking to get tested.
Still, Trump said that officials don’t want people taking the test unless they have certain symptoms. “It’s totally unnecessary,” Trump said. He added, “This will pass.”
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 Friday.
Stocks surged even as Trump was announcing the national emergency, rising more than 3% as Trump was speaking.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose hundreds of points as Trump, accompanied with CEOs of major businesses like Wal-Mart, Target and others, sought to assure Americans that there will be a steady supply of goods for panicked Americans. In just the last few minutes of the markets being opened, the Dow rose from about 1,100 to nearly 2,000 points.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 1,981 points higher, or 9.4%. The S&P 500 was up 9.2% while the Nasdaq Composite surged 9.3%. The averages posted their biggest one-day gain since October 2008.
The major averages hit session highs after Trump announced that 50,000 new coronavirus tests will be available by next week, hitting the largest point gain in history.