In the wake of the decision by the World Health Organization to label the coronavirus a pandemic, President Trump addressed the nation at 9 pm ET. The biggest announcement from the speech is that the United States will be shutting down incoming flights from Europe for 30 days.
“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,” Trump said. He added, “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.”
Trump said the restrictions would be adjusted “subject to conditions on the ground.” Americans who have undergone “appropriate screening” will be exempt. Also, the restrictions on Europe will not apply to the UK.
As for travel from China and South Korea, Trump said that as the situation there improves, he would re-evaluate the travel restrictions on those nations.
Trump also announced that the insurance industry had agreed to waive all co-payments for coronavirus treatments.
Trump said the risk of the virus to young, health people was “very, very low” but added, “the elderly population must be very, very careful…In general, older Americans should also avoid non-essential travel and crowded areas.”
Trump said he would be asking Congress to implement a series of financial changes designed to help those who are ill or caring for others with the virus. He also announced he was asking the SBA to help businesses with loans to help them deal with “temporary economic disruption” caused by the virus.
The speech ended on an upbeat note: “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.”
Trump didn’t single out any countries but, as I wrote earlier today, Italy is currently the country with the second highest number of infections after China (officially, though the situation in Iran may be much worse than we know). Today, Italy’s Prime Minister ordered nearly all businesses nationwide to shut down. Only grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and public transit will remain open.
Here’s the full speech: