THE US government may ban travelers to and from Europe amid the coronavirus pandemic as Trump considers declaring "a national disaster," reports say.
The White House is reportedly considering placing a "Level Three Travel Notice" on the entire European Union, although no decision has yet been made as of March 11.
This would recommend that Americans avoid nonessential travel to the region and quarantine themselves for 14 days after returning from their European trip during the ongoing health crisis.
Trump will be delivering a prime-time Oval Office address to the nation tonight at 9 pm on the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.
His administration floated several strategies this week – including the rare idea of declaring national disaster that could potentially unlock funding streams.
Earlier, Trump hinted at increased mitigation measures during a meeting with bankers to discuss how the financial services industry can help consumers and businesses impacted by the deadly disease.
"As you know, we have another part of the world, Europe, that is in very tough shape, having a hard time right now with the virus," the president said.
"We'll be making various decisions. You'll be hearing about them at approximately 8 o'clock tonight," he added. He was active on Twitter all afternoon, tweeting about his swift response to the virus.
President of the American Hospital Association, Rick Pollack, said he urged the government to make the shocking disaster declaration during a meeting with top administration officials at the White House.
Pollack argued it was necessary to provide Americans with adequate care as the Trump administration also considers limiting European travelers.
An administration official also told the Washington Post the US was considering heightened restrictions because it thinks Europe has become the biggest originator of new cases.
Raising the advisory to a level three for European nations might be an effective strategy for reducing travel between the US and Europe without having to impose a travel ban.
When China and South Korea were moved to a Level three, passenger demand dropped dramatically and airlines began canceling flights.
“They are watching the situation in Europe and are very worried – not just about Italy but France, Spain and Germany," a souce told The Sun on Wednesday.
Italy has been hard hit by the deadly disease with 827 deaths as of March 11 and over 12,000 cases as the coronavirus surged 31 percent in 24 hours.
The US hasn't confirmed their actions going forward, but Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said "the question is a live question about how to treat Europe as a whole."
They are watching the situation in Europe and are very worried – not just about Italy but France, Spain and Germany.
"That is not to the level of using legal authorities to block travel yet. But it is under consideration," he told a congressional hearing, reports AFP.
"Europe presents a unique problem," he said, highlighting the Schengen Area that maintains open borders between most of the Western European countries.
The Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services said Italy is pre-screening passengers on all direct flights to the US, according to AFP.
But Cuccinelli said we don't have enough resources to screen Italians or anyone else who is indirectly traveling to the US but he didn't give any details about a possible ban.
"That's where the cases are coming in from. If you want to be blunt, Europe is the new China," he said, as c across the US.
The news comes as confirmed cases on American soil surged to well over 1,000 with at least 32 coronavirius-related deaths in four states.
Trump has previously urged Americans to remain calm amid the ongoing crisis and promised to protect them at all costs this evening.
"I am fully prepared to use the full power of the Federal Government to deal with our current challenge of the CoronaVirus [sic]," he tweeted this afternoon.
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