Tonight President Donald Trump took an unprecedented step in the ongoing effort to fight the spread of COVID-19: A ban on all travelers from Europe beginning at midnight on Mar 13 and lasting 30 days.
He also said insurers will waive copays for COVID-19 treatment and called for tax relief for workers affected by the disease.
During a televised address to the nation from the Oval Office made hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus disease a global pandemic, Trump said the move would echo his administration's decision in January to ban travel from China. He said that the earlier ban limited the virus's spread in America, but Europeans—who enacted no such bans, in accord with advice from the WHO—proceeded to seed the virus in the United States.
"Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing," Trump said.
Trump said the ban will not apply to cargo flights from Europe nor to travelers from the United Kingdom. And there may be exceptions for Americans in Europe who have been screened thoroughly for the virus.
"Ultimately and expeditiously we can defeat this virus," Trump said.
COVID-19 co-payments to be waived
Trump also said he had met with the heads of major insurance agencies this week, and assured the public all co-pays and costs associated with coronavirus treatment, will be waived for all Americans.
"The risk to the vast majority of Americans is very low," Trump said. "The highest risk is to the elderly population and those with underlying health conditions."
Trump said nursing homes should suspend all but necessary medical visits. He also said his administration recommends that all older Americans avoid crowds and non-essential travel.
In the most emphatic part of the speech, Trump urged Americans to stay home from work if they are sick, and promised financial relief to workers and small businesses who may be afffected by the coronavirus.
"I am calling on Congress to provide an immediate payroll tax relief," Trump said.
"This is not a financial crisis," Trump said. "This is just a temporary moment in time that we will overcome as a nation and a world."