Culture

Trump Bans Travel from Europe, Seeks to Reassure Americans Amid Rising Coronavirus Fears

President Donald Trump speaks in an address to the nation from the Oval Office at the White House about the coronavirus Wednesday, March, 11, 2020, in Washington. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

In remarks from the Oval Office on Wednesday night, President Trump announced that he is banning travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. This announcement comes on the day that the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic.

“We are marshaling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people,” Trump said. “This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history.”

“The European Union failed to take the same precautions [the U.S.] did and restrict travel from China and other hot spots,” he continued. “As a result, a large number of new clusters of cases in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe. After consulting with our top government health professionals, I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and well-being of all Americans.”

“To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days,” the president announced. The restrictions will not apply to the United Kingdom.

Trump said the new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight and will be adjusted “subject to conditions on the ground.” There will be exemptions for Americans “who have undergone appropriate screenings.”

The president said the restrictions will be re-evaluated as the situation improves in China and S. Korea.

Trump said that earlier this week he met with leaders of the health insurance industry who agreed “to waive all co-payments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments, and to prevent surprise medical billing.”

“We are cutting massive amounts of red tape to make anti-viral therapies available in record-time,” he said. “Testing capabilities are expanding day by day. We are moving very quickly.”

He added that the risk to most Americans is “very, very low.” The highest risk, Trump said, is for the elderly population, especially those with underlying health conditions. “The elderly population must be very, very careful,” he warned. As a result, the federal government is highly recommending that nursing homes suspend “all medically unnecessary visits” and the elderly should avoid all non-essential travel to crowded areas.

The Trump administration is consulting with communities with known outbreaks and issuing guidance on school closures, social distancing, and large gatherings. “Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow.”

He urged Americans to follow the guidelines of local officials and to “take extra precautions and practice good hygiene.”

“Wash your hands, clean often-used surfaces, cover your face and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and most of all, if you are sick or not feeling well, stay home.”

The president went on to try and steady the volatile stock market, which has been rocked by fears of the coronavirus in recent weeks. He said he will soon be taking “unprecedented” emergency action to provide financial relief so that working Americans who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others infected with the virus can stay home without fear of financial hardship. He will ask Congress to take legislative action to extend this relief, he said.

Our country’s “vast economic prosperity gives us flexibility, reserves, and resources to handle any threat that comes our way,” Trump declared.  “This is not a financial crisis, this is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world.”

To provide extra support for American workers, families, and businesses, Trump outlined several actions his administration is taking:

  1. Urging the Small Business Administration to provide additional capital and liquidity, along with low-interest loans, to businesses affected by the coronavirus. To pay for this effort, he will ask Congress to appropriate $50 billion
  2. Using his executive authority he will instruct the Treasury Department to defer tax payments for certain businesses negatively impacted by the epidemic, providing $200 million in additional liquidity to the economy
  3. Calling on Congress to provide “immediate payroll tax relief” to Americans

“We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus,” he said. “We made a life-saving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe. We will not delay. I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health, and safety of the American people. I will always put the well-being of America first. If we are vigilant and we can reduce the chance of infection, which we will, we will significantly impede the transmission of the virus.”

“The virus will not have a chance against us,” he added. “No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States. We have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare, and the most talented doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world.”

“We are all in this together,” said Trump. “We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family.”

Finally, Trump tried to reassure worried citizens. “Americans always rise to the challenge and overcome adversity. Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine. Acting with compassion and love we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow citizens, and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than before.”

“God bless you and God bless America,” he concluded.

He later sent out a tweet clarifying that the travel ban applies only to humans and not goods. “Trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel for Europe.”

WATCH:

President Trump's Oval Office address on coronavirus

President Trump delivers a statement from the Oval Office regarding coronavirus as the administration mulls how to address the fast-growing health crisis. http://hill.cm/K7oqyK1

Posted by The Hill on Wednesday, March 11, 2020