Coronavirus Live Updates: Trump Says Some Domestic Travel Could Be Curtailed, and Senate Cancels Recess
Here’s what you need to know:
- Trump says domestic travel restrictions are a possibility.
- Days after being with Trump and Pence, Brazilian official tests positive for the virus.
- The Senate canceled a weeklong recess in hopes of reaching a virus relief compromise.
- Europe condemns the U.S. travel ban as more nations add restrictions.
- Stocks sink despite the Fed’s offer of $1.5 trillion to banks.
- Pence says to expect thousands of more cases in the U.S.
- New York will ban most gatherings of more than 500 people, including at Broadway shows.
Trump says domestic travel restrictions are a possibility.
President Trump said on Thursday that he could restrict domestic travel to regions of the United States where the coronavirus becomes “too hot.”
Asked by a reporter in the Oval Office whether he was considering limits on travel inside the country to hard-hit states like Washington or California, Mr. Trump said the subject had not yet been discussed, before adding: “Is it a possibility? Yes, if somebody gets a little bit out of control, if an area gets too hot.”
He did not elaborate, except to say that a containment zone New York state had imposed around the city of New Rochelle was “good.”
“People know that they’re being watched,” he said of the New York measure.
The president also said that he is canceling or deferring several political events in the coming weeks.
“We had some big rallies. We canceled one that were thinking about doing in Las Vegas, as you know. And one in Reno, Nevada.”
Speaking of political events, Mr. Trump mentioned “four or five of them that we were thinking about.” And he said he would not follow through on a planned “big one in Tampa, all sold out.”
“But I think we’ll probably not do it because people will say it’s better to not do,” he said. “You know, we need a little separation until such time as this goes away.”
Days after being with Trump and Pence, Brazilian official tests positive for the virus.
A senior Brazilian government official who visited Mar-a-Lago days ago, and was in close proximity to President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, has tested positive for the new coronavirus, Brazil’s government confirmed on Thursday.
But Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence will not be tested, according to the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham. “Both the president and vice president had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive,” she said in a statement.
Fábio Wajngarten, President Jair Bolsonaro’s communications chief, was at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s oceanfront resort in Florida, as part of Brazilian government delegation. Members of that group dined with Mr. Trump on Saturday.
In a statement, Mr. Bolsonaro’s office said it was “adopting all the necessary preventive measures to preserve the health of the president and the delegation that accompanied him on the recent official trip to the United States,” and had informed U.S. officials.
It said that Mr. Wajngarten tested positive in two separate tests after returning home with flu-like symptoms.
Mr. Bolsonaro was being tested for the virus, and results were expected on Friday.
Over the weekend Mr. Wajngarten posted a photo on his Instagram account posing shoulder-to-shoulder with Mr. Trump, who appears smiling and holding a baseball cap with the words “Make Brazil Great Again.” It was not clear when the photo, which includes Mr. Pence, was taken.
Mr. Trump was asked at a news conference about Mr. Wajngarten and said, “I’m not concerned.”
Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, who met with Mr. Bolsonaro in Miami earlier this week, said he would put himself in isolation as a precautionary measure. He added that said he did not think he had interacted with Mr. Bolsonaro’s aide and does not have any symptoms.
As of Thursday, Brazil had at least 73 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 930 suspected cases.
The Senate canceled a weeklong recess in hopes of reaching a virus relief compromise.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, canceled a recess that had been planned for next week, as House Democrats and the administration continued to negotiate a deal on a sweeping coronavirus relief package.
The package, unveiled by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, and her lieutenants on Wednesday night, would provide food security assistance, a substantial national paid sick leave program, free coronavirus testing and strengthened unemployment benefits.
“I am glad talks are ongoing between the administration and Speaker Pelosi,” Mr. McConnell said on Twitter. “I hope Congress can pass bipartisan legislation to continue combating the coronavirus and keep our economy strong.”
Senators from both parties had pushed to scrap the recess, which would have begun in effect Thursday afternoon, when senators typically leave for the week to return to their home states. Frustrated with the Democrats’ package and aware of the urgency to respond to the pandemic, senators had begun pushing to stay in Washington to work out a bipartisan compromise.
Europe condemns the U.S. travel ban as more nations add restrictions.
On both sides of the Atlantic on Thursday, the consequences of President Trump’s decision to ban most travel from Europe began to be felt economically, politically and socially.
European Union leaders issued a scathing statement condemning the move even as many nations on the Continent moved to tighten their own restrictions on the movement of people.
“The coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,” it said. “The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.”
Mr. Trump said on Wednesday night that he was suspending most travel from Europe for 30 days, beginning on Friday, and imposed a 30-day ban on foreigners who in the previous two weeks have been in the 26 countries that make up Europe’s Schengen Area.
The limits will exempt American citizens, permanent legal residents and their families.
Italy’s government reported more than 15,000 infections through Thursday, a jump of more than 2,000, and more than 1,000 deaths. With the worst outbreak outside of China, Italy is under a national lockdown.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, is expected to address his country on Thursday evening.
Containment efforts also gained intensity outside Europe, with India joining the growing list of countries imposing drastic travel limits. The Philippine government halted domestic travel in and out of the capital, Manila.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office said that his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, had been tested after developing flu-like symptoms, and was in isolation. Mr. Trudeau was exhibiting no symptoms, but decided to work from home until receiving his wife’s results.
While the World Health Organization has declared the global spread of the virus a pandemic, its leaders urged nations not to give up on containment. Uncontrolled spread of the virus, they warned, could overwhelm health care systems even in the wealthiest societies, forcing painful choices about whom to treat.
Stocks sink despite the Fed’s offer of $1.5 trillion to banks.
Stocks fell sharply again on Thursday, as Mr. Trump’s latest effort to address the coronavirus outbreak — a ban on the entry of most Europeans to the United States — failed to assuage investors’ concerns about the global economy.
The recovered slightly after the Federal Reserve Bank said it would offer at least $1.5 trillion worth of short-term loans to banks today and tomorrow. But then the decline resumed, with the S&P 500 index down almost 8 percent by mid-afternoon.
Waves of selling in stocks this week have left the Dow Jones industrial average and several major global benchmarks in bear market territory — a term that signifies stocks have fallen more than 20 percent from their highs. Without a substantial recovery on Thursday, the S&P 500 will end there as well.
The travel ban hit shares in Europe particularly hard, with major stock indexes there down more than 10 percent and one regional benchmark suffering its worst-ever decline.
Pence says to expect thousands of more cases in the U.S.
Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday that thousands more cases of coronavirus were expected in the United States, and that Americans returning from Europe would need to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
t“We know there will be thousands of more cases of coronavirus,” Mr. Pence said on NBC’s “Today” show. Asked whether it could be millions, he declined to answer, saying, “I’ll leave to the experts to make the estimates of how many people will be infected.”
Speaking hours after President Trump announced a travel ban from most European countries, Mr. Pence offered more details on the plan during appearances on several morning television shows.
Americans returning from the affected area of Europe in the next 30 days, he said, would be “funneled through 13 airports.”
The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement after Mr. Trump’s remarks clarifying that the ban did not “apply to legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation.”
The president had appeared to suggest that the ban would extend to cargo shipments, but later tweeted that the ban would not affect shipments. He also said there would be “exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings.”
“Please remember, very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe,” Mr. Trump tweeted late Wednesday. “The restriction stops people not goods.”
In his address, the president broke from the business-as-usual attitude he had tried to project, calling the virus a “horrible infection,” but still seemed to anticipate a quick end to the crisis. And some of the basic scientific information he conveyed was wrong.
“We are making antiviral treatments available in record time,” he said — but there are no approved antiviral treatments for coronavirus.
Mr. Pence was asked on CNN about the confusion. “I don’t think there was any confusion,” he said.
If the virus had seemed a distant threat to many Americans, news that the actor Tom Hanks had tested positive seemed to shake that notion. And the steady drumbeat of bad news from Wall Street only heightened anxiety.
New York will ban most gatherings of more than 500 people, including at Broadway shows.
New York will ban most gatherings of more than 500 people, including at Broadway shows, and restrict smaller gatherings in an extraordinary step to fight the growing outbreak of the coronavirus in the state, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Thursday.
The restrictions represent New York’s most forceful move yet to try to mitigate the spread of the virus. They are expected to have a profound impact on the city’s cultural institutions, including Broadway, a multibillion dollar industry at the heart of New York’s tourist trade.The ban will take effect at 5 p.m. Thursday for Broadway theaters and will go into effect for other venues on Friday at 5 p.m., Mr. Cuomo said.
California bjoined other states in impose new measures aimed at containing the virus, telling residents to postpone or cancel gatherings of more than 250 people, including sports events, conferences and concerts, through the end of March.
The new guidelines also advised against gatherings in smaller venues, such as auditoriums, that don’t allow for 6 feet of distance between people. Groups of high-risk people, such as those in retirement or assisted-living facilities, should be limited to no more than 10 people, officials said.
Delays in testing have made it difficult to get a full sense of scale of the outbreak, but the epidemic is increasingly altering American life, and state, local and private institutions are taking matters into their own hands. They have declared states of emergency, closed schools and churches, and ordered thousands of people with potential exposure into isolation.
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State, which has been hit hard by the virus, said that people should no longer sit shoulder-to-shoulder in local bars, as such socializing has become “totally unacceptable” amid the global pandemic. He also banned public gatherings of 250 people or more in three counties in the Seattle area.
In Ohio, the governor said a ban on large events was imminent. San Francisco’s mayor banned group events of more than 1,000 people.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle suspended all public celebration of Mass, becoming the first Catholic archdiocese in the country to do so. Episcopal bishops in Virginia and Washington, D.C., said that churches in their dioceses would close for two weeks.
Many colleges have moved classes online and in some cases directed students to not return after spring break.
As of early Thursday, about 1,300 people in 44 states and Washington, D.C., had tested positive and 37 people had died, most of them in Washington State. Diagnosed cases in three states — Washington, New York and California — account for more than 60 percent of the U.S. outbreak. But the prevalence of the infection is unknown, because testing has been limited.
In New Rochelle, N.Y., National Guard troops have begun delivering food for school lunches and helping clean and sanitize public facilities and buildings.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he planned to issue rules limiting large crowds, but did not plan to shut down the subway system, public schools or Broadway theater.
“I don’t want to see Broadway go dark if we can avoid it,” he said. “I want to see if we can strike some kind of balance.”
The N.H.L. paused their season and the Met in New York temporarily closes.
One by one, sporting events have been canceled, museums shuttered, movie premieres delayed and conferences and concerts disbanded in a global push to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, N.B.A. suspended its season after a player for the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus. The N.H.L. and Major League Soccer followed by announcing pauses to their seasons. Most N.H.L. teams have about a dozen games left in the regular season, with the Stanley Cup playoffs scheduled to begin in about a month. “It’s the right thing to do but obviously it stinks,” Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov said in a telephone interview.
In New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced on Thursday that it would temporarily close its three locations, including its Fifth Avenue flagship. The sprawling music, tech and film festival in Austin, South by Southwest, was canceled and the giant Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which takes place in the picturesque desert of Southern California, was postponed until October.
Ireland’s government canceled all St. Patrick’s Day parades, including Dublin’s. (Boston, which has a robust Irish-American population, also canceled its parade; Manhattan’s was postponed.) Several places in Germany, including Berlin, closed all state theaters, concert halls and opera houses.
A JetBlue passenger learns, in the air, that he has the virus.
A passenger on a JetBlue flight from New York to West Palm Beach, Fla., on Wednesday night learned midair that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, raising questions about possible widespread exposure.
The passenger, who had previously been tested for the virus and was awaiting results, got a notification toward the end of the flight that the test had come back positive, JetBlue said on Thursday. He was overheard talking about it, and the flight crew quickly notified health officials on the ground.
The flight, which departed from Kennedy International Airport with 114 people on board, landed at Palm Beach International Airport around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Medical workers rushed to the airport shortly after, officials said.
“JetBlue had no prior indication that this customer had or may have had coronavirus,” the airline said in a statement. Both airports and the airplane were being cleaned.
The New York Times is offering free access to coronavirus coverage.
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The U.S. Capitol is closed to visitors.
In a move to protect both tourists and lawmakers from the coronavirus, Congress’s visitor center will shutter the Capitol to visitors until April.
“We are taking this temporary action out of concern for the health and safety of congressional employees as well as the public,” the House and Senate sergeants at arms said in a statement on Thursday.
The decision follows guidance from Congress’s attending physician that lawmakers — many of whom, as older Americans, are at higher risk from the virus — avoid attending large group meetings and shaking hands with visitors.
Concern in the Middle East grows more dire as cases rise in Egypt.
Greek pilgrims on a tour of the Holy Land. American tourists who took a cruise on the Nile. A Tunisian who attended a soccer game in Cairo.
At least 102 people who traveled in Egypt last month have tested positive for the coronavirus after returning to their home countries, stoking fears of a much wider outbreak in the Arab world’s most populous country than had previously been calculated.
Egypt has declared 67 coronavirus cases, and officials insist that it is still safe for tourists to come to the country. “Thank God, Egypt is one of the least affected countries,” Tourism Minister Khaled el-Enany told reporters in Cairo on Tuesday.
Egyptian officials say that the country’s outbreak is concentrated on a cruise ship on the Nile, on which 45 people were infected, that has been quarantined since Friday. But the high number of people who have tested positive after leaving Egypt suggests that the virus has spread to other parts of the country.
Outside Iran, the highest number of reported cases in the Middle East are in countries like Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Iraq, which have declared about 500 cases between them.
The number in Qatar jumped to 262 from 24 on Wednesday amid fears that the virus will spread in the packed camps for construction workers who are building soccer stadiums for the 2022 men’s soccer World Cup.
Relatively little is known about the spread of the virus in some of the region’s most vulnerable war-torn corners, such as Syria, Yemen and Libya.
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Americans abroad scramble to find a way home.
Across Europe on Thursday, Americans scrambled to make sense of conflicting messages from Washington about if and when they would be allowed to return to the United States.
David Barreres of Toms River, N.J., who was visiting Spain, was awakened just before 4 a.m. by frantic messages from friends after President Trump announced a ban on most travelers from Europe for the next 30 days.
As Mr. Barreres and his wife began looking for flights, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a statement contradicting the president, saying that the rules did not apply to American citizens.
Unsure of what to believe, Mr. Barreres called travel agents, his airline and the U.S. embassy, but he could not get anyone on the phone who could clarify the situation. As of Thursday morning, he said he planned to go to the embassy in person to find out “if we’ll be able to get back to my four daughters that are in the care of their grandmother.”
After the president’s speech, officials suggested the 30-day ban applied only to foreign nationals who had 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.
Congress plans to vote on an aid package today.
The House is set to vote on Thursday on a sweeping aid package for people affected by the coronavirus, with a measure that would establish a national paid leave program, expand food assistance, offer free coronavirus testing and bolster unemployment insurance.
The proposal also includes $500 million to provide assistance to low-income pregnant women and some mothers who are laid off because of the outbreak; $400 million to assist food banks; and $250 million to deliver packaged meals to low-income seniors.
The package, unveiled late Wednesday night, calls for the development of a standard for health workers’ safety and establishes a mandate for paid sick days in the case of public health emergencies like the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said the measures “focused directly on providing support for America’s families, who must be our first priority in this emergency.”
Although it is expected to pass the Democratic-controlled House, it is unclear whether President Trump will embrace it. In a televised address from the Oval Office on Wednesday night, he said he would take “unprecedented” action to provide financial relief “for workers who are ill, quarantined or caring for others due to coronavirus,” but the White House did not elaborate on the details.
The main thrust of Mr. Trump’s economic rescue plan, a huge payroll tax cut, has drawn skepticism from members of both parties.
Republican congressional aides said late Wednesday that the Democrats’ bill appeared to contain several “poison pills” that would make it difficult for them to support it. And the top House Republican called it ineffective and too expensive.
“If the Democrats try to move what they’re trying to do, I don’t know that that will help the economy,” Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the House minority leader, said in an interview on Fox News. “It’ll just cost us so much more money.”
Tom Hanks says he and his wife have the coronavirus.
The Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks said on Wednesday night that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Mr. Hanks, 63, is one of the highest-profile 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, said in a statement that he and Ms. Wilson, also an actor, had been tested after feeling tired with body aches and feverish temperatures. The couple will remain isolated for as long as public health requires, Mr. Hanks said.
“Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?” he said in the statement, which was accompanied by a photograph of a lone medical glove in a hazardous-waste container.
Mr. Hanks is playing the role of Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis 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 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.
China says it has passed the peak of the outbreak.
China has passed the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, a spokesman for the country’s health ministry said on Thursday. The new virus first emerged in China late last year, and the country has recorded about two-thirds of the cases worldwide, though its new cases have dropped sharply in recent days.
On Thursday, China said it had just 15 new coronavirus cases and 11 deaths over the previous day. Eight of the infections were in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the epidemic first spread, and six were diagnosed among travelers arriving from abroad. China’s total count of confirmed infections is 80,793, including 3,169 deaths.
“The peak of the current round of epidemic in China has already passed, the number of new cases continue to decline, and the overall epidemic situation has generally been maintained at a low level,” said Mi Feng, the health ministry spokesman.
He added that the country should not ease its aggressive approach to controlling the outbreak. “We must make medical treatment the top priority and not grow apathetic, war weary or relaxed,” Mr. Mi said.
Beijing on Thursday also reacted with anger at comments from Robert O’Brien, the White House national security adviser, who said China’s cover-up of the initial outbreak cost the international community “two months to respond.”
Geng Shuang, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said American officials should concentrate on cooperating on the fight against the virus “rather than blame China and vilify the Chinese government and people’s efforts to fight the epidemic.”
Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Elisabetta Povoledo, Steven Erlanger, Alissa J. Rubin, Alexandra Stevenson, Daniel Victor, Austin Ramzy, Russell Goldman, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Albee Zhang, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Daniel Victor, Sui-Lee Wee, Annie Karni, Marc Santora, Megan Specia, Declan Walsh, Vindu Goel, Michael Crowley, Patricia Mazzei, Nicholas Fandos, Kevin Draper, Mihir Zaveri, Katie Robertson, Elian Peltier, Jason Horowitz, Emma Bubola, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Emily Cochrane, Jorge Arangure, Matthew Futterman, Elaine Yu, Amy Qin, Alan Rappeport, Emily Cochrane, Karen Zraick, Sandra E. Garcia, Scott Cacciola, Sopan Deb, Brooks Barnes, Noah Weiland, Sheri Fink, Mike Baker, Monika Pronczuk, Melissa Eddy, Roni Caryn Rabin, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Andrew Keh, Ernesto Londoño, Aurelien Breeden, Katie Thomas, Richard Pérez-Peña and Dagny Salas.