President Trump says restricting travel from Europe is necessary.
President Trump announced on Wednesday night that he was taking action to stem the spread of the coronavirus by suspending most travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days, beginning on Friday. The restrictions do not apply to Britain, he said.
Mr. Trump imposed a 30-day ban on foreigners who have been in the 26 countries that make up the European Union’s Schengen Area in the previous two weeks. The limits take effect Friday at midnight and will exempt American citizens and permanent legal residents and their families, although they could be funneled to certain airports for enhanced screening.
Later on Wednesday night, the State Department issued an advisory telling Americans to “reconsider travel” to all countries because of the global effects of the coronavirus. It is the department’s second-strongest advisory, behind “do not travel.”
Speaking from the Oval Office, Mr. Trump also said health insurance companies had agreed to extend insurance coverage to cover coronavirus treatments as well as waive related co-payments.
The president added that he planned to soon announce emergency action to provide financial relief for workers who fall ill or need to be quarantined. He said he would ask Congress to take legislative action to extend that relief but did not detail what that would be. He said he would instruct the Treasury Department to “defer tax payments without interest or penalties for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted.”
The president, sitting behind the Resolute Desk with his arms crossed, finally appeared to be acknowledging the severity of the virus, calling it a “horrible infection” and acknowledging that Americans should cut back on travel that was not necessary.
It signaled a break from the business-as-usual attitude he had been trying to project as recently as Tuesday, when he urged Americans to “stay calm” and said the virus would soon go away. But Mr. Trump continued to anticipate a fast end date to the spread of the coronavirus, even as medical experts have warned that the pandemic will worsen.
“This is not a financial crisis,” he said. “This is just a temporary moment in time that we will overcome as a nation and a world.”
The address capped a day when concerns about the threat of the virus seemed to reach a new pitch and measures to protect vulnerable populations began to upend regular life across the country. Many schools announced they would close indefinitely, some nursing homes banned visitors, and workplaces across the country urged their employees to work from home.
The spread of the coronavirus across more than 100 countries now qualifies as a global pandemic, World Health Organization officials said on Wednesday, confirming what many epidemiologists have been saying for weeks.
Until now, the W.H.O. had avoided using the term, for fear that people would think the outbreak was unstoppable and countries would give up on trying to contain it. There is evidence on six continents of sustained transmission of the virus, which has infected more than 120,000 people and killed more than 4,300. The pandemic designation is largely symbolic, but public health officials know that the public will hear in the word elements of danger and risk.
According to the W.H.O., an epidemic is defined as a regional outbreak of an illness that spreads unexpectedly. In 2010, it defined a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease” that affects large numbers of people. The C.D.C. says it is “an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.”
The last pandemic declared by the W.H.O. was in 2009, for a new strain of H1N1 influenza.
The Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks announced on Wednesday night that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Mr. Hanks, 63, is one of the most famous celebrities to contract the virus that has spread throughout the globe.
Mr. Hanks, who is in Australia to film a movie about the life of Elvis Presley, wrote that he and Ms. Wilson, also an actor, had gotten tested after feeling tired with body aches and feverish temperatures. The couple will remain isolated for as long as public health requires, Mr. Hanks wrote. “Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?” Mr. Hanks wrote in the statement, which was accompanied by a photograph of a lone medical glove in a hazardous waste container. Hanks is playing the role of Colonel Tom Parker, Presley’s eccentric manager, who groomed the famous singer to stardom in the 1950s. Production on the film, which is being directed by Baz Luhrmann, is set to begin filming on Monday.
Australia has had more than 120 cases confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Wednesday.At a news conference, Annastacia Palaszczuk, the premier of Queensland, said those who had been contact with the couple for more than 15 minutes would need to self isolate. “So a selfie,” she said, “wouldn’t count.”
“What this signals is that this coronavirus can happen to anyone,” she added.
The N.B.A. suspends its season after a player tests positive for the coronavirus.
The N.B.A. will suspend its season after a Utah Jazz player was found to have tested positive for the coronavirus, the league announced on Wednesday. The league said the suspension would take effect after the completion of Wednesday’s schedule.
In Oklahoma City, a game between the Thunder and the Jazz was seconds away from starting when the Thunder’s head medical staffer sprinted onto the court to talk to referees. Players from both teams then left for their locker rooms.