By Megan VerHelst/Patch
WASHINGTON, DC — President Donald Trump Wednesday night announced he is suspending all travel between the U.S. and Europe for 30 days beginning Friday as he seeks to fight the new coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
Trump made the announcement in his Oval Office address to the nation, blaming the European Union for not acting quickly enough to address the novel coronavirus and saying U.S. clusters were "seeded" by European travelers, The Associated Press reported.
The ban applies to foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries during the 14 days prior to their arrival in the Unites States, according to the Department of Homeland Security. There will also be exemptions for "Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, AP reported, and it also wouldn't apply to cargo.
Trump said the travel restrictions will not apply to the United Kingdom.
Other measures announced by Trump included working with the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide low-interest loans to small businesses that have been financially impacted by the coronavirus spread.
He also said the U.S. will defer tax payments for some individual and business filers for three months to lessen the impacts of the virus outbreak, AP reported.
On Wednesday afternoon, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic. The use of the word "pandemic" refers to the scope of the new coronavirus — but not its severity — and means it has become a "worldwide spread of a new disease."
After days of mixed signals and partisan differences, the Trump administration and members of Congress moved swiftly Wednesday to confront the virus as cases increase throughout the United States.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin noted that Trump's executive authorities are "quite significant," AP reported, adding the administration would be quickly rolling out "various proposals" as it works with Congress "on a bipartisan basis to be able to immediately help small and medium-sized businesses as well."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi planned to unveil the economic assistance package, with voting possible as soon as Thursday, on sick pay and other measures to help those self-quarantining or missing work as officials encourage people to limit social interactions to slow the rise of infections, according to AP.