It may be the most important public-private partnership ever announced (during non-wartime efforts) by the U.S. government and American corporations.
President Trump at The White House today launched a public-private partnership between the U.S. government and business giants to battle the coronavirus (COVID-19). The lineup of partners includes CVS, Target, Walgreens and WalMart, among other global business and medical giants. CEOs from multiple companies spoke at the gathering.
Also, Google was mentioned multiple times, but was not present at the event, and there has been some confusion about what the search company's role will be in the effort.
Meanwhile, the president called on Americans to hunker down for roughly eight weeks to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.
"This effort will save countless lives," Trump asserted, in one of his first statements that actually addresses the pandemic's potential threat and impact on America and its citizens.
Public-Private Partnership vs. Coronavirus
The strategy calls for:
- 1.5 million coronavirus test kits to be available within a week.
- Fully 5 million test kits will be available within a month.
- CVS, Target, Walgreens and WalMart will donate parking lot space to perform drive-through coronavirus tests.
- Google has 1,700 engineers developing a website that will allow people to determine if they need to take the test -- and if so, where to find the test, the president's team indicated. However, a Google sister company clarified the comments. Among the details: A limited test of the site is expected the week of March 16, according to a spokesperson for Verily, a subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet, CNN reports.
- Declaring a national emergency to ensure hospitals, healthcare workers and other facilities are empowered to make rapid-fire decisions in their communities.
- The federal government waiving student loan interest -- though the length of time was not disclosed.
Multiple guest speakers at the White House -- representing Corporate America and the medical industry -- provided detailed information that many Americans have been waiting on for weeks.
The clear messaging eased concerns on Wall Street. The DOW, S&P and NASDAQ had their best day since October 2008, CNBC says. Much of the market jump occurred while medical professionals -- particularly Physician Deborah Leah Birx -- described the strategy to roll out a website and test kits to Americans, as pictured below:
Tough Times Ahead: Brace for Eight Weeks or More
Still, America is not out of the woods. The President and Congress still have not agreed on various legislation to further help the country battle the coronavirus.
Updated: House Democrats and the Trump administration reached agreement on a coronavirus response package Friday after a day of grueling negotiations, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, CNBC reports.
Also, the public-private partnership likely only emerged in the past 48 hours or so, CNBC suggests. That means coordination between the federal government and corporate partners (CVS, Target, Walgreens and WalMart) may face ramp-up challenges.
Meanwhile, businesses in multiple sectors -- particularly transportation, retail, restaurants and more -- are bracing for falling revenues and potential cash flow strains. The shortfalls may be massive as major events shut down, and "social distancing" strategies to slow the virus's spread takes hold.
Asked about help for small businesses, President Trump reiterated his commitment to deeply fund the Small Business Administration (SBA) -- paving the way for emergency loans to small businesses.
"In the coming weeks, we'll all need to make changes and sacrifices," Trump said. But those sacrifices will help us all for the long term, he added.
Originally published March 13, 2020, 5:24 p.m. ET. Updated March 14 with new information involving Google & congressional developments.