In the battle against the virus, Trump restricts travel from Europe
WASHINGTON: By taking dramatic steps, President Donald Trump drastically restricted passenger travel from 26 European nations to the US. UU. And it moved to ease the economic cost of a viral pandemic that is rocking global financial markets and disrupting the daily lives of Americans.
Trump, in a rare Oval Office address to the nation on Wednesday night, said the month-long travel restriction would start late Friday at midnight. After days of minimizing the threat, he blamed Europe for not acting fast enough to tackle the foreign virus, and claimed that the European groups were sown by European travelers.
We made a life-saving movement with early action on China, Trump said. Now we must take the same action with Europe.
Trump said the restrictions will not apply to the United Kingdom, and that there will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate evaluations. He said the United States would monitor the situation to determine if the trip could be reopened earlier.
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The State Department followed Trump's comments by issuing an extraordinary global health advisory warning American citizens to reconsider travel abroad due to the virus and the associated quarantines and restrictions.
Trump spoke after days of confusion in Washington and amid growing calls for the president to demonstrate greater leadership. Sometimes, however, his comments contributed to the uncertainty.
While Trump said that all European travel would be discontinued, Homeland Security officials later clarified that the new travel restrictions would apply only to the majority of foreign citizens who have been in the Schengen Area at any time for 14 days before. of your scheduled arrival in the United States. The area includes France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Austria, Belgium and others, and the White House said the area has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 outside of mainland China.
The restrictions do not apply to lawful permanent residents, the immediate family of U.S. citizens, or others identified in the proclamation signed by Trump.
And Trump spoke badly when he said the bans would not only apply to the huge amount of trade and cargo, but to various other things. The official proclamation released after Trump spoke made it clear that it applies to people, not goods and cargo.
The leadership of the Oval Office represented an abrupt change in tone for a president who has tried to minimize the severity of the virus outbreak. Many Americans shared a similar mindset in the past few weeks, but the grueling events on Wednesday changed the mood: communities canceled public events across the country, universities moved to cancel classes in person, and families dealt with it. impact of disruptions in public schools. The number of confirmed cases of the infection exceeded 1,000 in the United States. UU. And the World Health Organization declared that the global crisis is now a pandemic.
Even when Trump spoke from behind, the fierce rewriting of the pandemic of American everyday life continued. The National Basketball Association suspended his season, and Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, had tested positive for COVID-19. The first confirmed case on Capitol Hill was reported by a member of the legislative staff.
After Trump spoke, the White House canceled a trip planned by the president to Nevada and Colorado this week, as a precaution. Trump's re-election campaign also postponed a planned event for March 19 in Milwaukee to be presented with the president.
After a week of mixed messages and false starts, and when government officials warned in increasingly urgent terms of the US outbreak. UU. It will only get worse, Washington suddenly seemed ready to act.
Congress released a multi-million dollar aid package on Wednesday that the House was expected to vote on Thursday.
I can say that we will see more cases, and things will get worse than they are now, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. He said the virus is 10 times more deadly than seasonal flu.
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Trump said he was also ordering agencies to provide unspecified financial relief for workers who are sick, quarantined, or caring for others due to the coronavirus, and asked Congress to take steps to extend it. White House aides declined to provide details about Trump's announcement.
Trump said the United States will defer tax payments for some individual and business taxpayers for three months to lessen the impacts of the virus outbreak. He said the Small Business Administration will also make low-interest loans to businesses to help them weather the storm.
This is not a financial crisis, he said. This is a temporary moment that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world.
Trump also reiterated his call for Congress to pass a cut to the federal payroll tax to stimulate the economy, although that idea has been rejected by many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. He was silent on his previous calls to assist pandemic-affected industries such as airlines and cruise ships.
On Capitol Hill, Democrats in the House of Representatives introduced a financial assistance plan on Wednesday night that would provide free coronavirus testing across the country and emergency funds to reimburse lost paychecks for those in quarantine They lose a job or lose jobs in the middle of the outbreak.
The bill contains a new federal temporary sick leave benefit for coronavirus victims and caregivers, two-thirds of an employee's monthly earnings for up to three months, as well as a permanent mandate for employers to provide up to seven days of sickness. . leave for workers and 14 days leave in case of public health emergencies.
Faced with a likely increase in jobless claims, the package would also give states money for the newly unemployed. It would provide additional funds for food and nutrition benefits for pregnant women, mothers and young children.
It would also increase money for meals on wheels and food for low-income seniors, as well as additional Medicaid funds for states facing a fiscal crisis.
The Treasury secretary, whom Trump turned to for negotiations with Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, urged Congress to pass the legislation quickly. But while the ambitious package should go through the House on Thursday, Senate Republicans are likely to seek change.
The administration had come up with several other strategies, including the rare idea of declaring a national disaster that could unblock funding streams, according to an unauthorized person to discuss planning and granted anonymity. But Trump ultimately chose not to take that step on Wednesday.
Trump, 73, is considered at higher risk because of his age and has repeatedly rejected the advice of public health experts, who have advised the public to stop shaking hands and practice social distancing. But that did not stop him from calling his fellow citizens to help combat the spread of the virus. 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, he said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more serious illnesses, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with minor illnesses recover in approximately two weeks, while those with more serious illnesses can take between three and six weeks to recover.
The Congressional Assistant Physician told staff there could be 70 to 100 million cases of coronavirus in the US. UU. That is on par with other estimates. A Harvard official has estimated that 20% to 60% of adults will contract the virus, noting that it is a fairly wide range.
In Washington, tourists still made it to the United States Capitol, but an unauthorized official to discuss the situation and speak on condition of anonymity confirmed that tours would soon be closed.