Amid COVID-19 Concerns, Trump Bans Travel From Europe

Yesterday, following the World Health Organization’s announcement that they were classifying the COVID-19 virus as a pandemic, US President Donald Trump announced a ban on travel from Europe into the US. The announcement, made during a primetime slot from the Oval Office, was an attempt by Trump to seize control on the narrative surrounding COVID-19.

Trump makes Coronavirus address
Mother Jones

However, his insistence that the disease was a “foreign virus” that was slipping into the US was far from reality. Health experts agree that the disease is now in the stage of “community spread.”

That means it’s being passed from one person to another within US borders. Since the disease is a pandemic, restricting travel at this stage is likely not going to have a major effect, health officials contend. The disease is already here: what matters now is how we take care of patients who get it.

Trump Tries to Seize the Narrative

After a month of unclear messaging and rosy predictions of a “quick, painless” saga for the coronavirus disease, the Trump administration seems to have finally realized the gravity of the situation. However, the virus quickly proved that simple flu symptom relief wouldn’t cut it. After over 1,000 confirmed cases in the US and numerous warnings from the CDC, the administration took the opportunity last night to try to project strength and control.

However, Trump’s speech, a rambling and hard-to-understand tirade against the “foreign virus,” spooked more than just level-headed viewers. At Trump’s insistence that the Europe ban would include “goods and cargo, the US Stock Market’s futures trading dropped immensely, tripping a circuit breaker. The fears of a trade freeze amid the plummeting stock market sent investors scrambling.

Following the precipitous fall of stock futures, Trump tweeted out a backpedal. He said that the ban would not affect trade. He didn’t state that he misspoke, or that he was amending his policy. Trump simply acted like this was always the plan.

Sharp Criticism for Trump’s Handling of the Virus

Many have stated that Trump’s handling of the viral outbreak in the US has been lacking. There has been a general lack of clarity and focus on how, exactly, the country will respond to the threat. The unusual decision to block travel from Europe struck many as evidence that the president is in over his head. He was not prepared for this health crisis.

Trump’s blaming the outbreak on foreign nations confused many. “We have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe.

“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hot spots. As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe,” Trump stated, tripping over his words as he visibly tried to read from a teleprompter.