President Donald Trump announced he was ordering an immediate shut-down of all travel from Europe to the United States from midnight on Friday to try to stop the spread of coronavirus in the US in an extraordinary address to the nation on Wednesday night.
‘We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days,’ Trump announced, conceding that world health officials had now declared the health crisis a pandemic after insisting for days that it would ‘go away’ and urging Americans not to panic.
The ban will apply to travelers who have visited 26 countries in the EU’s Schengen border-free area in the last 14 days, but not travelers from the UK or Ireland, or to US citizens, American permanent residents and their immediate family members.
Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday morning that all Americans returning from Europe would be asked to quarantine when they return.
Trump said the ban would come into effect at ‘midnight’ on Friday though confusion reigned over exactly how it would be implemented – including how the cut-off would apply across time zones, which routes Americans would be allowed to use to get home, and whether travelers returning from Europe would face screening or quarantine.
The move caused immediate confusion for Americans within Europe who immediately began scrambling to airports in an effort to get home. The State Department also warned Americans against all non-essential travel abroad, raising the prospect of mandatory quarantines and further bans that could leave people stranded. CNN reported that all travelers returning from Europe would face mandatory quarantine, though did not make it clear where that information came from.
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.
Trump’s address also made no mention of measures being adopted by other countries to stop the spread of the virus within their borders – like closing schools, banning public gatherings and restricting travel between cities.
While he did announce co-payment wavers for coronavirus treatment he made only a brief mention of test kits and did not say whether the waver would apply to testing.
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.
Oval Office address: Donald Trump finally addressed the nation about the coronavirus crisis from the White House on Wednesday and banned all travel to Europe
The announcement was quickly met with criticism from a range of industries.
Dr Margaret Harris from the World Health Organisation was among those criticizing the travel ban, warning that it focuses resources on borders rather than stopping the virus spreading through communities.
‘We are not keen on travel bans generally because it makes the country concerned focus on managing their borders rather than focusing on what we’d like to see.
‘[We need to] focus on the spread within the community and stopping the spread within the community and really supporting the health system to be able to look after the people that are and do get severely ill,’ she said during na appearance on Good Morning Britain.
The move also drew immediate criticism from senior Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer who urged Trump to back their move to offer free testing kits, and to focus on fighting the spread of the virus within the US.
‘We have a public health crisis in this country and the best way to help keep the American people stay safe and ensure their economic security is for the president to focus on fighting the spread of the coronavirus itself,’ they said in a joint statement.
The Association of Flight Attendants was also quick to criticize Trump, branding his travel ban ‘irresponsible’ and saying it is ‘about politics, not public safety’.
‘There is no explanation for how this will help fight the spread of the virus,’ a statement said. ‘It makes little sense when the virus is already in the United States.
‘The President expressly stated the United Kingdom is not included in the travel ban and yet the UK health minister herself has the virus.’
COUNTRIES WHOSE PEOPLE ARE BANNED
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
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’.
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.
‘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 37 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.
Many states have moved ahead of the White House on preventing the spread of the virus, and have already started limiting travel and putting in place ‘social distancing measures’ to limit contact between people.
VP MIKE PENCE: ALL AMERICANS RETURNING FROM EUROPE WILL BE ASKED TO SELF-QUARANTINE
Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday morning
The UK and Ireland are not included in the ban, for reasons he is yet to explain.
It was a dramatic change in tone from the president who, up until Tuesday, had been telling the public not to panic and claiming the virus – which has claimed thousands of lives now worldwide – would go away on its own.
Vice President Pence said on Thursday that the administration had been taking the threat seriously from the beginning but that the unprecedented move to ban European travel was taken as the number of cases there exploded.
He also repeated that the president had asked private laboratories, Lab Corp and Quest Diagnostics – both of which have developed tests that can be used despite not yet being FDA approved because they comply to certain guidelines – to ‘spin up’ production of them.
One of the consistent criticisms of the government’s response to the emergency is how slow it has been to produce and make tests for the virus widely and readily available.
‘We have all have known from the beginning that the coronavirus would continue to spread across this country, it’s one of the reasons president trump took decisive action to put the health of the American people first not only declaring a public health emergency in January but that same month, suspending all travel from China and quarantining everyone returning from the region.
‘Since then, we’ve issued travel advisories to Italy, South Korea… but frankly as we watched the epicenter of the coronavirus shift from China and South Korea to Europe, the president thought it was proper for us to impose a 30 day suspension on all travel from continental Europe,’ he said.
There are already 1,327 cases of the virus in the US and 38 people have died.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has limited large gatherings statewide and ordered schools to temporarily close for deep cleaning and so that staff have time to plan for longer-term shutdowns.
All 12 of Florida’s state universities are closing their dormitories and presenting classes online, following in the wake of institutions such as Harvard, Columbia, Princeton Cornell, Stanford and Yale which have either shut down campuses or cancelled in-person classes and moved online.
In Wisconsin, all residents have been told to avoid all non-essential travel while Washington Governor Jay Inslee has banned gatherings of more than 250 people in and around Seattle, with social distancing measures such as mandatory distance between customers in place in bars.
Oregon and California have also banned gatherings of more than 250 people state-wide, with smaller gatherings only permitted if a minimum distance of 6 feet can be guaranteed between people.
Washington state has also closed all public schools in Seattle starting Thursday, with 50,000 children told to stay at home.
In New York, the suburb of New Rochelle was placed in containment in an attempt to isolate a cluster of cases.
After Trump spoke:
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.’
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.
Read the full text of Donald Trump’s address to the nation on the coronavirus crisis
Today, the World Health Organization officially announced that this is a global pandemic.
We have been in frequent contact with our allies, and we are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people.
This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history.
I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.
From the beginning of time, nations and people have faced unforeseen challenges, including large-scale and very dangerous health threats.
This is the way it always was and always will be. It only matters how you respond, and we are responding with great speed and professionalism.
Our team is the best anywhere in the world.
At the very start of the outbreak, we instituted sweeping travel restrictions on China and put in place the first federally mandated quarantine in over 50 years.
We declared a public health emergency and issued the highest level of travel warning on other countries as the virus spread its horrible infection.
And taking early intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe.
The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots.
As a result, a large number of new clusters 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 wellbeing 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 new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground.
There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval.
Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing.
These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom.
At the same time, we are monitoring the situation in China and in South Korea.
And, as their situation improves, we will reevaluate the restrictions and warnings that are currently in place for a possible early opening.
Earlier this week, I met with the leaders of health insurance industry who have agreed to waive all copayments 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 antiviral therapies available in record time.
These treatments will significantly reduce the impact and reach of the virus.
Additionally, last week, I signed into law an $8.3 billion funding bill to help CDC and other government agencies fight the virus and support vaccines, treatments, and distribution of medical supplies.
Testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly, day by day. We are moving very quickly.
The vast majority of Americans: The risk is very, very low. Young and healthy people can expect to recover fully and quickly if they should get the virus.
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.
In general, older Americans should also avoid nonessential travel in crowded areas.
My administration is coordinating directly with communities with the largest outbreaks, and we have issued guidance on school closures, social distancing, and reducing large gatherings.
Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow.
Every community faces different risks and it is critical for you to follow the guidelines of your local officials who are working closely with our federal health experts — and they are the best.
For all Americans, it is essential that everyone take extra precautions and practice good hygiene.
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 are sick or not feeling well, stay home.
To ensure that working Americans impacted by the virus can stay home without fear of financial hardship, I will soon be taking emergency action, which is unprecedented, to provide financial relief.
This will be targeted for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to coronavirus.
I will be asking Congress to take legislative action to extend this relief.
Because of the economic policies that we have put into place over the last three years, we have the greatest economy anywhere in the world, by far.
Our banks and financial institutions are fully capitalized and incredibly strong. Our unemployment is at a historic low.
This vast economic prosperity gives us flexibility, reserves, and resources to handle any threat that comes our way.
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.
However, to provide extra support for American workers, families, and businesses, tonight I am announcing the following additional actions: I am instructing the Small Business Administration to exercise available authority to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus.
Effective immediately, the SBA will begin providing economic loans in affected states and territories.
These low-interest loans will help small businesses overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus.
To this end, I am asking Congress to increase funding for this program by an additional $50 billion.
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.
This action will provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy.
Finally, I am calling on Congress to provide Americans with immediate payroll tax relief.
Hopefully they will consider this very strongly.
We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus. 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 wellbeing 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. 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.
We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family.
As history has proven time and time again, 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 ever before.
God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you.
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.
NOT A WORD ABOUT TESTING: PELOSI AND SCHUMER BLAST TRUMP’S ADDRESS
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer blasted Trump for glossing over the issue of how get more Americans tested as the outbreak spreads.
‘We have a public health crisis in this country and the best way to help keep the American people stay safe and ensure their economic security is for the president to focus on fighting the spread of the coronavirus itself,’ they said in a joint statement.
‘Alarmingly, the president did not say how the administration will address the lack of coronavirus testing kits throughout the United States.’
‘Tomorrow, we urge Republicans in the House and Senate to help immediately pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
‘The bill will include free coronavirus testing, paid emergency leave for workers, food security assistance, help to states overburdened by Medicaid costs, and strengthened Unemployment Insurance, among other much-needed measures to keep the American people safe,’ they said.
‘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.
Addressing the prospect of a worldwide recession due to the virus, Trump added: ‘This is not a financial crisis. This is just a temporary moment in time that we will overcome as a nation, and as a world.’
Power of the office: Donald Trump spoke from behind the Resolute desk, in front of the United States flag, the presidential seal, and pictures of (from left) his mother Mary Anne, father Fred, and a picture of himself with a young Ivanka in front of him
Moment of history: How Donald Trump addressed the nation from behind the Resolute desk, with a single camera and stills photographer allowed in the room
NBC SUSPENDED SEASON AFTER VIRUS-MOCKING GOBERT TESTS POSITIVE
The NBA has cancelled its season, it was announced Wednesday night, after the Oklahoma City Thunder’s game against the Utah Jazz was postponed with no explanation and it was later announced a player had contracted coronavirus.
The player was the Jazz’s Rody Gobert.
The league confirmed in a statement that ‘the test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight’s game’ and ‘the affected player was not in the arena’.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert recently tested positive for COVID-19, a source said. Gobert got sick after touching the microphones and recorders of reporters
‘The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,’ a statement read. ‘The NBA will use this hiatus to determine the next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.’
Jazz center Gobert who tested positive had joked about the virus, touching the microphones and recorders of reporters.
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.
TOM HANKS AND RITA WILSON: WE HAVE THE VIRUS – AND WE’RE OK
Actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, they revealed Wednesday evening.
The Forrest Gump actor and his wife, both 63, announced the positive test results on Instagram urging the public to ‘take care’.
The couple is currently in Gold Coast, Australia where the Oscar-winner is filming for an untitled Baz Luhrmann-directed Elvis Presley film produced by Warner Bros.
Hanks revealed he and his wife experienced symptoms including the common cold, body aches and chills before they decided to get tested.
‘Hello, folks. Rita and I are down here in Australia. We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches. Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive.’
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.’
View from outside: Donald Trump seen through the Oval Office window as he addresses the nation on the coronavirus crisis and claims it is not a financial crisis in the making
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.
‘Things will get worse than they are right now,’ said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government top infectious disease expert, said at a House hearing Wednesday.
Trump also lobed an attack at Vanity Fair magazine for what he termed a ‘hit piece.’
The story cast him as a germaphobe who is ‘terrified’ of getting the virus, and describes the administration’s response and PR handling of the crisis as out of control.
‘Vanity Fair Magazine, which will soon be out of business, and their third rate Fake reporters, who make up sources which don’t exist, wrote yet another phony & boring hit piece,’ Trup wrote. ‘The facts are just the opposite. Our team is doing a great job with CoronaVirus!’
Among other things, the article quotes an unnamed prominent Republican saying: ‘Donald is a famous germaphobe. He hates it if someone is eating nachos and dips a chip back in after taking a bite. He calls them ‘double dippers.’
It also reports that last week, Trump told aides he fears journalists will get the disease on purpose in order to give it to him on Air Force One.
On Monday, it was revealed that Trump loyalist GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz flew on Air Force Once with Trump only to learn he had come in contact with a man who had it at CPAC, Gaetz then put himself under quarantine.
Desperate Americans spark ‘bedlam’ at European airports: Fliers pay up to $20,000 for flights from Paris to get back to the US before Trump’s travel restrictions begin
Hundreds of travelers, confused as to whether they will be let back home and face quarantine, rushed to El Prat Airport in Barcelona, Spain, after Trump announced the restrictions to start this Friday to slow the progression of the coronavirus.
Tourists from the U.S., who were left shrouded in confusion by the details of the proposal, scrambled to the Spanish and French airports in the early hours of Thursday morning uncertain about how the ban would impact their attempts to fly back home.
Brussels International Airport: People wait to check in to a flight to Chicago at the United Airlines counter in the main terminal of Brussels International Airport in Brussels on Thursday
Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, France: People wearing protective face masks line up at the Air France ticketing desk inside Terminal 2E at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy on Thursday
Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, France: For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness
Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, France: President Donald Trump’s decision Wednesday to impose a 30-day ban on most Europeans entering the United States has sparked ‘bedlam’ at airports across Europe
With President Trump declaring the ban would come into effect at ‘midnight’ on Friday, confusion reigned over exactly how it would be implemented – including how the cut-off would apply across time zones and which routes Americans would be allowed to use to get home.
Questions also remained as to whether travelers returning from Europe would face screening or quarantine.
Journalist Mike McIntire tweeted from Charles de Gaulle airport: ‘Bedlam at U.S.-bound airlines at CDG in Paris early this a.m., as Americans pay as much as $20,000 for last-minute flights.’
The State Department also warned Americans against all non-essential travel abroad, raising the prospect of mandatory quarantines and further bans that could leave people stranded.