The CEOs of Walmart, Target and Walgreens joined President Donald Trump on Friday as he declared COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, a national state of emergency, which paved the way for $50 billion in federal funds to address the outbreak.
The president made the emergency declaration at a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, where he was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, as well as Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO of Target.
Both McMillon and Cornell met with Trump earlier in the day to discuss the pandemic, which is spreading across the United States and is expected to have significant impacts on the nation’s food industry across the board.
During the press event, McMillon pledged to keep Walmart’s parking lots freed up with reserved space for testing of the coronavirus while pledging to lend its support to assist with other preventative measures.
“When we got the call yesterday from the White House, we were eager to do our part to help serve the country,” McMillon said. “And given what we’re facing, that’s certainly important to do. We should all be doing that.”
Cornell also said Target will keep its stores open “to serve the American consumer who’s rapidly stocking up on household essentials,” and added that the two national retail competitors are fully united in curtailing the spread of the coronavirus.
Walgreens President Richard Ashworth and CVS EVP Thomas Moriarty, who were also among the retail executives who were on hand for the press conference, also both committed to supporting the U.S. government’s efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus via more aggressive testing.
FMI issued its support for Trump's decision to declare a national emergency and garner appropriate resources to help feed and protect the nation against COVID-19.
“With increasing uncertainty regarding COVID-19 in the U.S., shoppers seek to reestablish control of their environment, and our grocery supply chain is working to support that desire for stability through its adaptability, flexibility and resilience,” FMI President and CEO Leslie Sarasin said in a statement.
“Our industry has proven itself time after time in periods of emergency, as evidenced by its strength and confidence in the ability to meet the needs of the communities it serves, no matter the circumstance. This fortitude is due to our strong public-private partnerships with government agencies to ensure our supply chain remains both nimble and effective,” Sarasin added. “We live in a global economy, which is evident every day in the aisles of a grocery store. As this situation progresses, the grocery supply chain will be tested, but built-in efficiencies, strong trading partner relationships, nimble technology and service relationships, and genuine concern for our customers will be manifested in the resilience of this supply chain.”