President Trump BANS Visitors to the US From Europe For 30 Days Starting at Midnight on Friday in Fight to Stop Coronavirus - but Excludes Travelers From the UK and Relatives of American Citizens
March 11, 2020
President Trump did not declare federal state of emergency as some had urged, or announce travel restrictions in U.S.
- President addresses the nation on coronavirus as its spread across the world is officially declared a pandemic by World Health Organization
- He announced he was closing the borders with Europe from midnight on Friday, with the UK exempt; Department of Homeland Security said Ireland is too
- In astonishing mix-up he said the ban covered trade - then had to tweet afterwards that it only affected humans
- Covers countries including Italy where hospitals are overwhelmed and all but pharmacists and food stores have been closed
- Trump blamed the European Union for the spread of the virus, calling it 'foreign'
- Cast aside days of downplaying its threat to American life and economy to say that the resources of the federal government will be deployed to beat it
- He pleaded with Americans 'wash your hands' and told elderly people to limit social contact
- Said he would guarantee financial aid for the sick and those caring for them and help small businesses and the worst-hit sectors
- 'The virus will not have a chance against us - no nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States,' he said
- But he did not declare federal state of emergency as some had urged, or announce travel restrictions in U.S.
- Dramatic change of tone came after markets plunged and officially entered 'bear territory,' meaning the loss of 20% of their value
- Spoke at 9pm EST in Oval Office in address carried on all TV networks
President Donald Trump told the nation he was ordering an immediate shut-down of all travel from Europe to the United States as he addressed the nation on the coronavirus in a prime time Wednesday speech.
'We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days,' Trump announced, in a speech from the Oval Office to the nation.
Speaking hours after world health officials declared the coronavirus a pandemic, Trump repeatedly defended his own actions and vowed the nation would prevail in countering the virus and getting treatment on the market.
'The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight,' he said. The move was so sudden the acting Homeland Security secretary said he would issue full guidance on how to carry it out within 48 hours.
The White House said the travel restrictions would apply to foreign nationals who have visited 26 European countries - but excluding the UK and Ireland - in the past 14 days.
It will not apply to US citizens, their 'immediate' family members or legal permanent residents. But confusion remained over how exactly the rules would apply and in what time zone the deadline would be introduced.
The emergency measures also include:
- Tax deferments without interest or penalties for businesses and individuals affected by the coronavirus;
- A demand for $50billion in low-interest loans to small businesses to help them overcome the crisis;
- A call for Congress to enact 'immediate payroll tax relief';
- Financial 'relief' for workers who are ill, quarantined or caring for others;
- A deal with health insurers to waive copayments - although there was immediate confusion over whether this covered treatment for the virus or just testing.
The president did not announce any ban on public gatherings, or declare any travel restrictions within the U.S., although he did urge older Americans to avoid crowded places if possible.
He also caused confusion after appearing to announce that trade from Europe was also banned, only to clarify later on Twitter that 'the restriction stops people not goods'.
Hoping to get the payroll tax cut approved by both Republicans and Democrats, and please remember, very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe. The restriction stops people not goods.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2020
Trump urged elderly Americans to take great caution, urged cutting off visitors to nursing homes, and told Americans to wash their hands diligently.
'The virus will not have a chance against us - no nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States,' he said.
He explained the new measure as a matter of protecting the nation from the rapidly spreading virus - which he called 'foreign.'
'This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history,' he said. 'I will always put the well-being of America first.
COUNTRIES WHOSE PEOPLE ARE BANNED
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
WHO THE BAN APPLIES TO
Most foreign nationals who have been in these countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States*
AND WHO IT DOESN'T
'Legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation.'*
* according to Department of Homeland Security'We are mobilizing the full power of the federal government and private sector to protect the American people,' he said.
European Council chief Charles Michel said European countries were assessing the ban today, warning that 'economic disruption must be avoided'.
About 4,600 people have died so far worldwide. In the US there are over 1,300 cases of coronavirus and 38 deaths as of Thursday morning. Some 366 of those cases and 29 deaths were reported in Washington state. Numbers are expected to skyrocket in the United States once more testing is done.
After Trump spoke:
- the NBA announced it had called off the rest of its season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gorber tested positive for the virus just before tip-off
- the State Department told Americans to immediately reconsider any plans to travel abroad because of the danger of the virus
- Tom Hanks and his actress wife Rita Wilson revealed they had it too
- Wall Street braced for more selling Thursday as the futures pointed to a loss of as much as 1,000 points on the Dow
- Joe Biden prepared to deliver his own coronavirus crisis plan to go head-to-head with his presidential election rival
- An aide to Democratic Washington senator Maria Cantwell became the first person on Capitol Hill to be confirmed as having the virus, while six other lawmakers remain quarantined over possible exposure
- And Trump followed his own advice and canceled a campaign swing to Colorado and Nevada after being slammed for refusing to stop shaking hands and holding rallies.
The epicenter of the disease in Europe is in Italy, where the government ordered the shutdown of virtually the entire economy as the number of people diagnosed soared and overwhelmed hospitals had to decide who to save from death.
Health officials have warned in recent days about the risk of further spread of the virus from European travelers visiting the U.S. or Americans returning from trips there.
'These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground,' he said. He said there would be exemptions for Americans who underwent 'appropriate screenings.'
— Alexander Verbeek 🌍 (@Alex_Verbeek) March 12, 2020
A COVID19 timelime of confirmed cases outside of China until today.
How is this crisis affecting your daily life?#Corona #pandemic #covid #COVID19 #coronavirus #health
On television, he said the prohibitions would apply to the 'tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval.'
Trump also spoke to trade between Europe and the U.S. 'Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing,' he said.
But then the White House had to issue an astonishing clarification - that the president had misspoken and the ban in fact only applies to humans.
He said the restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom. The Department of Homeland Security said Ireland was also exempt.
The UK had 460 cases when Trump spoke, an infection rate higher than the 1,315 cases in the U.S. when adjusted for population.
Britain's infection rate is around 1 in 144,000 people, worse than the current U.S. figure of around 1 in 249,000 people.
Trump blasted the EU, with whom he has sparred in the past, after praising his own decision to cut travel with China early in the outbreak.
'The European Union failed to take the same precautions,' Trump said. He called his measures 'strong but necessary actions.'
The UK is not a member of the European Union, having left on January 31 through Brexit.
But Trump, who has clashed the Europeans over trade and tariffs throughout his tenure, also dangled the possibility of a 'possible early opening.'
On health matters, Trump said:, 'We are cutting massive amounts of red tape to make antiviral therapies available in record time.'
He did not repeat his earlier claims that a vaccine might be available far earlier than the year and a half estimates of health professionals.
On testing capability, Trump said simply: 'We are moving very quickly.' He earlier took heat for saying every American who wanted a test could have one, even as the U.S. lags South Korea and other nations on testing.
Trump said the risk was 'very, very low' for the vast majority of Americans.'
However, he said: 'The highest risk is for elderly population with underlying health conditions.'
'The elderly population must be very, very careful. In particular, we are strongly advising that nursing homes for the elderly suspend all medically unnecessary visits,' Trump said.
The VA has already done that in its more than 100 nursing homes for the elderly, the only ones under direct federal control.
Trump was seated with his hands folded for the event. He took a somber tone, even as he repeatedly praised his own administration's handling of the deadly outbreak that has caused financial markets to tumble amid the mounting death toll and infection rate.
He paused and took deep breaths at times during his remarks. Democrats and other have criticized the president for minimizing the outbreak and repeatedly telling the nation everything would be fine, and even encouraging people to buy stocks.
White House aides did not allow a press pool to be present, only a single camera and still photographer for the address.
The famously germophobic Trump offered health tips in keeping with what the nation's health officials are providing. He referenced new administration guidance on social distancing and large crowds, but gave no firm instructions.
'Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow,' Trump said.
'For all Americans it is essential that everyone take extra precautions and practice good hygiene,' Trump advised.
'Each of us has a role to play in defeating this virus. Wash your hands. Clean often-used surfaces. Cover your face and mouth if you sneeze or cough.
'And most of all, if you're sick and not feeling well: stay home,' he said, speaking with emphasis.
In the first sign of Trump following his own advice, the White House canceled a planned trip to Las Vegas.
Trump had been due to address the Republican Jewish Coalition in the city and raise funds for his re-election campaign.
Trump said he was taking 'emergency action' which he called 'unprecedented' to provide 'financial relief' to American workers.
It would be for 'workers who are ill, quarantined or caring for others due to coronavirus,' Trump said.
He listed both actions he said he had authority to take on his own, and those requiring congressional action.
'Using emergency authority I will be instructing the Treasury Department to defer tax payments without interest or penalties for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted.'
He said the move would provide $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy. He did not say which businesses or individuals would get it or how.
Trump did not repeat his call to bail out specific industries such as airlines or cruise ships, an idea he pitched this week.
The Trump Organization is a real estate and hotel empire with golf property holdings that is closely linked to travel and tourism.
Two of the European countries exempt from the travel ban have Trump properties - two golf courses in Scotland, which is part of the UK, and one in Ireland.
The president said he is calling on Congress to provide Americans with 'immediate payroll tax relief – an idea he has pitched.
'Hopefully, they will consider this very strongly,' he said. Trump's economic team has said he wants to suspend the entire 12.4 percent employer and employee payroll tax.
Trump said he will be 'asking Congress to take legislative action to extend this relief.'
The president met with Senate Republicans this week but has not sat down with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi since the crisis began.
His Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, met with Pelosi for talks.
Trump called his decision to cut off travel with China while the outbreak was raging there a 'life-saving move.'
'Now we must take the same action with Europe,' he said.
A day after telling Americans while at the Capitol: 'Just stay calm. It will go away,' Trump attended to rally the nation as prior White House occupants have during war and other perils.
'We will not delay. I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health and safety of the American people,' Trump said.
'I will always put the well-being of America first.'
'The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States,' Trump said, hailing U.S. medical professionals.
'We are all in this together. We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship and unify together as one nation and one family,' said Trump, who earlier Wednesday attacked Democrats and accused them of politicizing the outbreak.
The address to the nation was hurriedly - and chaotically - announced on Wednesday afternoon as Trump met the nation's top bankers in the White House cabinet room.
Even amid new economic anxiety, Trump talked up the U.S. economy's potential.
'Prior to the coronavirus it was it was just all go, the numbers were fantastic,' Trump told bank executives. 'We don't even know what the numbers are now, we'll have to see. The numbers from a week ago were great, from two days ago were great.'
Trump continued: 'Now we're hitting a patch and we're going to have to do something with respect to getting rid of this virus as quickly as possible and as safely as possible.'
He predicted problems would be a short term, after he and advisors encouraged investors to buy in the stock market.
'We think it's going to be a short term period,' Trump said. 'If we get rid of it quickly, everything solves itself,' Trump said.
'We're having to fix a problem that four weeks ago nobody ever thought would be a problem. You read about them. You read about them from 1917 and from lots of other times. But nobody thought that we would be seeing … This came out of nowhere. Actually came out of China, which is the way it works,' Trump said.
Trump was most likely referencing the Spanish flu of 1918, which killed millions and is estimated to have infected up to a third of the world population. However various government medical officials have warned about the risk of a pandemic, including during the outbreaks of diseases like SARS and MERS in recent years.
He didn't reveal any details of how to get rid of the virus. The nation's top infectious disease expert spoke Wednesday about the process of developing a vaccine and a focus on therapeutic treatment.
Trump continued to make up-beat economic predictions. 'I think there'll be a pent up demand when this is gone. I think that everything maybe where it's tamped down now people aren't leaving their homes, you're going to see a tremendous pent up demand which hopefully won't be in the too distant future,' Trump said.
He preceded his remarks with new calls to action on Twitter, after getting hammered by Democrats for failing to take the outbreak seriously enough.
'I am fully prepared to use the full power of the Federal Government to deal with our current challenge of the CoronaVirus!' Trump wrote.
Trump's PR pushback came as tensions rose inside the White House, with hand sanitizers placed in strategic locations, a drop of more than 1,000 points on the Dow, and the World Health Organization labeling the outbreak as a pandemic.
'This is the first pandemic caused by coronavirus,' said the WHO's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Politico reported that Trump was reluctant to declare a state of emergency, to avoid stoking panic. That would involve a role for Federal Emergency Management Agency and freeing up money for states.
More limited ideas being floated have included tax relief for hourly workers, delaying the April 15 filing deadline, and actions to push out more small business loans.
'Someone needs to tell the Democrats in Congress that CoronaVirus doesn't care what party you are in. We need to protect ALL Americans!' Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
'America is the Greatest Country in the world. We have the best scientists, doctors, nurses and health care professionals. They are amazing people who do phenomenal things every day,' Trump wrote in another tweet. 'Together we are putting into policy a plan to prevent, detect, treat and create a vaccine against CoronaVirus to save lives in America and the world. America will get it done!' he wrote.
Hours earlier, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, testified that the coronavirus was ten times more deadly than the flu – a disease Trump has previously tweeted about while urging calm and saying the nation would prevail.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House oversight committee, told a panel of expert witnesses during a hearing on the disease: 'This morning we were informed that President Trump and Vice President Pence have called our witnesses to an emergency meeting at the White House. We don't know the details, just that it is extremely urgent.'
She later cited reports that the gather was not an emergency meeting, adding: 'However that's not what your staff just told us.'
Fauci issued dire warnings at the House committee hearing.
'Bottom line, it's going to get worse,' Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. He warned millions will be affected.
'If we are complacent and don't do really aggressive containment and mitigation, the number could go way up and be involved in many, many millions. If we contain we could flatten it,' he noted, pushing back when asked to pin down how many might be infected.
He also recommended large sporting events be banned.
He said that the WHO estimated it to be lethal in 3.4% of recorded cases so far, a figure he expects to drop to 1% - 'which means it's 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu.'
'We would recommend that there not be large crowds. If that means not having any people in the audience as the N.B.A. plays, so be it,' he said.
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee prohibited gatherings of over 250 people in counties around Seattle, in just the latest move to restrict interactions to contain 'community spread.' Basketball games, classes, and festivals were being cancelled and postponed. The NCAA announced that division one college games would be played in arenas without crowd during the famed 'March Madness' tournament.
The NBA's Golden State Warriors announced the team will play its next home game without fans, in a part of the country where the Diamond Princess was moored offshore after an outbreak.
Additional new government actions were not immediately clear. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was to 'take all appropriate and necessary steps' so health care workers could get respirators needed when treating coronavirus patients. Shortages are a concern, as is the manufacture of many face masks for industrial rather than medical use.
The administration continues to assemble possible tax ideas to address the market drop and economic impacts. House Democrats are readying legislative action on their own ideas.
Closures of schools, festivals, and sporting events continued to pile up.
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