President Donald Trump announced a new series of measures to combat the spread of the novel Wuhan coronavirus, declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.
“We are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people,” Trump said in an Oval Office address.
Trump issued a near-total ban on travel from Europe as the continent struggles to contain the outbreak with exceptions made for the United Kingdom and Americans who undergo a special screening. The new restrictions are expected to go into place on Friday at midnight and would last for at least 30 days.
In January, the Trump administration issued travel restrictions on foreign nationals who traveled to China, banning them from entering the U.S.
Trump also announced several new measures put forward by the administration to ease the economic impact of the virus as global stock markets dive in response to the outbreak and attempted to ease anxieties over a global panic.
“This is not a financial crisis, this is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome as a nation and as a world,” Trump said.
Among the new measures include an immediate payroll tax cut across the board to be approved by Congress and financial assistance provided by executive order to individuals and firms negatively impacted. The administration will also be handing out low-interest loans to institutions harmed by the economic contraction caused by the crisis.
In his prime time address, the president urged Americans to practice clean hygiene, recommending individuals stay home if they exhibit any symptoms of sickness and advised nursing homes to stop any “medically unnecessary visits” to protect the nation’s elderly who are most vulnerable to the Wuhan coronavirus’ fatality.
“Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow,” Trump said.
The president concluded by making a strong plea for Congress to look past political divisions in a united front to combat the public health emergency plaguing the nation.
“We are all in this together,” Trump said. “We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship and unite.”