The Trump Administration this week added the United Kingdom and Ireland to a travel ban designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 (ironically, the travel ban wasn’t Trump’s idea this time).
A previous iteration of the travel ban applied to all nations in the Schengen Area with the exclusion of Ireland and the UK; critics note that Trump has three golf resorts in those countries.
The current ban prevents residents of 28 European countries from traveling to the United States. It does not affect US citizens and their family members, which are directed to use one of 13 airports with enhanced screening procedures in place. Unfortunately, international travelers arriving at said airports have reported lax screening measures even for passengers arriving from areas with a high rate of infection.
On Saturday, White House officials said they were considering relief options for airlines and cruise ships, which have been disproportionately affected by the virus.
“The airlines industry in particular, no different than after 9/11, has a very unique circumstance – the cruise industry, the hotel industry,” said Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin. “I would say we’ve got a lot more work to do.”
Major cruise lines including Carnival, Viking, Disney, Royal Caribbean, MSC, and Norwegian have suspended operations to and from US ports for at least 30 days. Starbucks is considering limiting its sales to drive-thru only. More than 12 states have closed all K-12 schools to prevent the spread of the virus, and some streaming services are offering free or discounted movies to encourage people to stay at home.
President Trump declared a national emergency on Friday, freeing up $50 billion in additional funding and waive requirements to speed up coronavirus testing and treatment. That same day, officials confirmed more than 1,700 cases in the United States ad at least 41 deaths. New York City, a virus hotspot, reported its first death on Friday: an 82-year-old woman with emphysema.
“Numbers are spiking because our testing capacity is going up,” noted NY Governor Andrew Cuomo.
President Trump said he took a test for the virus late last week but has not announced the results. This weekend, authorities began checking the temperatures of all individuals coming into close contact with the president and vice president.
In the meantime, Senators are preparing to vote on a bill that would provide free testing, sick pay for workers, enhanced unemployment benefits, and strengthened food programs. The legislation cleared the House Saturday with a vote of 363-40.
“I encourage all Republicans and Democrats to come together and VOTE YES!” tweeted Trump. “Look forward to signing the final bill, ASAP!”
Other measures have already been implemented, including the waiving of all federal student loan interest ‘until further notice.’
Officials including Ivanka Trump, AG William Barr, and Sens. Lindsey Graham, Rick Scott, and Ted Cruz are self-isolating after meeting with foreign officials who tested positive for the virus.
The situation remains grave in Italy, which has reported over 1200 coronavirus deaths and more than 17,000 cases.
Author’s Note: It seems that social isolation is the best solution, although this can be difficult to do. My grandmother told me yesterday that she is only allowed inside the nursing home for 15 minutes per day to visit her husband. She lives in Ohio and turned 85 this week.