President Trump delivered a powerful unifying address to the nation in response to growing concerns over the rapid spread of the Coronavirus.
Trump announced that he is suspending inbound travel from Europe for 30 days on the same day that the World Health Organization upgraded the status of the viral outbreak to pandemic status.
“My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak with you about our nation’s unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and is now spreading throughout the world,” Trump began. “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,” Trump said. “Our team is the best anywhere of 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.”
“Taking early, intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe,” Trump continued. “The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hot spots. As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe.”
After his address, Trump also stressed that the travel restriction only applies to people and will not impact trade, tweeting out, “The restriction stops people not goods.”
As the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, the U.S. and many other nations have enacted tough measures to contain the illness, including barring foreign visitors from countries ravaged by the outbreak.
“I’m confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens and we’ll ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus,” Trump said.
The Trump administration so far has barred travelers from mainland China, where the virus originated last December, and Iran, which also has seen a spike in infections, from entering the United States.
The restrictions covered any foreign nationals who visited those countries within the past 14 days.
American travelers returning from China and Iran have been screened for symptoms in one of 11 airports.
The virus has killed over 4,200 people and sickened nearly 120,000 others globally. Some 1,200 cases have been reported in the U.S
In addition to travel restrictions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned Americans to avoid all nonessential travel to multiple countries, including Italy, which largely has been in a lockdown state amid a surge in coronavirus infections.
Other nations included South Korea, China and Iran. The agency also has warned Americans to take extra precautions when traveling to Japan.
Trump also announced additional financial relief awaiting congressional approval.
The president said he would direct agencies to provide unspecified financial relief “for workers who are ill, quarantined or caring for others due to coronavirus,” and asked Congress to take action to extend it.
He also said he would defer tax payment for some individual and business filers for three months to lessen the financial impacts of the outbreak.
He said “we are marshaling the full power” of the government and private sector to protect the American people.