President Trump on Wednesday said the U.S. would restrict travel from Europe for the next 30 days and use executive orders to offer financial relief to individuals and small businesses in his most extensive steps to date to address the crisis of the coronavirus.
Trump said the extraordinary restrictions would not apply to Great Britain, which formally left the European Union at the end of January.
Trump, in just his second Oval Office address since taking office, sought to assure a worried nation about the spread of the virus, which has infected more than 1,000 Americans and killed more than 30 thus far.
The president used the sober 11 minute address to detail the new travel restrictions and targeted economic relief for small businesses and individuals impacted by the virus, while calling on Congress for further action on payroll tax relief and benefits for hourly workers.
“We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus,” Trump said, reading from prepared remarks.“We made a lifesaving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe.”
“I will never hesitate to take any steps to protect the lives, health and safety of the American people. I will always put the wellbeing of America first,” Trump said.
The virus has presented a unique challenge for Trump, who has proven immune to scandals and statements that would likely have doomed other presidencies.
Trump struck a measured tone after facing days of criticism from Democrats and former government officials that he was not taking the outbreak seriously enough. He urged the public to wash their hands and stay home if they were feeling ill and projected confidence that the U.S. was well prepared for the situation.
But the president has in the past delivered serious and thoughtful scripted remarks after national tragedies and critical moments, only to revert back to partisan swipes and Twitter attacks.
Trump urged Americans to “put partisanship aside” and come together as “one family,” a plea that may be difficult to accept from a president who last week labeled the governor of Washington a “snake.”
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SOURCE: The Hill, Brett Samuels and Morgan Chalfant