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The White House Live page posted the live address announcement, with a link to their YouTube channel. President Trump addressed the nation and also issued a travel suspension on Europe, excluding the U.K. He spoke into the camera from the Oval Office for ten minutes, sticking closely to his prepared remarks. He spoke seriously of both the threat and our nation’s resources to respond to the threat. He did not speak as an authoritarian ruler, instead of revealing that most of the actions he wishes to take require the assent, the action of the legislature. This is as it should be under our Constitution.
I took away the following highlights, and have posted the entire short address text below:*
- Suspension of all travel from Europe, excluding the UK, for the next 30 days. This will actually stay in effect until his health experts advise otherwise, so the 30-day mark will be a reassessment date.**
- Clusters here were seeded by travelers from Europe.
- Exemptions for Americans undergoing appropriate screening.
- Monitoring China and South Korea, as the situation improves we will consider reopening travel.
- Cutting red tape for antiviral research and testing.
- Young and healthy can expect to fully recover. The elderly population must be very very careful.
- Smart action today will reduce the risk tomorrow.
- We have the best economy, the most advanced medical care, and the most talented doctors, scientists and researchers in the world.
- Targeted relief for workers sick or caring for others with coronavirus.
- Our vast economic strength gives us more ability to respond to this health threat.
- Massive loans to small businesses affected by the coronavirus.
- Calling on Congress to authorize $50 billion for this.
- 200 billion in tax payment relief.
- Calling on Congress to give payroll tax relief quickly.
President Trump has been setting up the speech on Twitter:
Reading through the travel suspension, I note that the UN gets an exemption. This and other exemptions are almost certainly driven by laws and treaties. How about UN functionaries telecommuting for a month or so? The proclamation does not include the testing or screening measures he directed for anyone who would be exempt from the travel suspension.
At the same time, the proclamation makes clear that only passengers are affected, not cargo. President Trump was not perfectly clear on that in his remarks, so he cleaned it up with this tweet:
Hoping to get the payroll tax cut approved by both Republicans and Democrats, and 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. The restriction stops people not goods.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2020
* The White House team uploaded the text of the address within 90 minutes of his delivering the remarks:
Remarks by President Trump in Address to the Nation
HEALTHCARE | Issued on: March 11, 2020
9:02 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans: Tonight, I want to speak with you about our nation’s unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and is now spreading throughout the world.
Today, the World Health Organization officially announced that this is a global pandemic.
We have been in frequent contact with our allies, and we are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people.
This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history. I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.
From the beginning of time, nations and people have faced unforeseen challenges, including large-scale and very dangerous health threats. This is the way it always was and always will be. It only matters how you respond, and we are responding with great speed and professionalism.
Our team is the best anywhere in the world. At the very start of the outbreak, we instituted sweeping travel restrictions on China and put in place the first federally mandated quarantine in over 50 years. We declared a public health emergency and issued the highest level of travel warning on other countries as the virus spread its horrible infection.
And taking early intense action, 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 hotspots. As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe.
After consulting with our top government health professionals, I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and wellbeing of all Americans.
To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground.
There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom.
At the same time, we are monitoring the situation in China and in South Korea. And, as their situation improves, we will reevaluate the restrictions and warnings that are currently in place for a possible early opening.
Earlier this week, I met with the leaders of health insurance industry who have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments, and to prevent surprise medical billing.
We are cutting massive amounts of red tape to make antiviral therapies available in record time. These treatments will significantly reduce the impact and reach of the virus.
Additionally, last week, I signed into law an $8.3 billion funding bill to help CDC and other government agencies fight the virus and support vaccines, treatments, and distribution of medical supplies. Testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly, day by day. We are moving very quickly.
The vast majority of Americans: The risk is very, very low. Young and healthy people can expect to recover fully and quickly if they should get the virus. The highest risk is for elderly population with underlying health conditions. The elderly population must be very, very careful.
In particular, we are strongly advising that nursing homes for the elderly suspend all medically unnecessary visits. In general, older Americans should also avoid nonessential travel in crowded areas.
My administration is coordinating directly with communities with the largest outbreaks, and we have issued guidance on school closures, social distancing, and reducing large gatherings.
Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow.
Every community faces different risks and it is critical for you to follow the guidelines of your local officials who are working closely with our federal health experts — and they are the best.
For all Americans, it is essential that everyone take extra precautions and practice good hygiene. Each of us has a role to play in defeating this virus. Wash your hands, clean often-used surfaces, cover your face and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and most of all, if you are sick or not feeling well, stay home.
To ensure that working Americans impacted by the virus can stay home without fear of financial hardship, I will soon be taking emergency action, which is unprecedented, to provide financial relief. This will be targeted for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to coronavirus.
I will be asking Congress to take legislative action to extend this relief.
Because of the economic policies that we have put into place over the last three years, we have the greatest economy anywhere in the world, by far.
Our banks and financial institutions are fully capitalized and incredibly strong. Our unemployment is at a historic low. This vast economic prosperity gives us flexibility, reserves, and resources to handle any threat that comes our way.
This is not a financial crisis, this is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world.
However, to provide extra support for American workers, families, and businesses, tonight I am announcing the following additional actions: I am instructing the Small Business Administration to exercise available authority to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus.
Effective immediately, the SBA will begin providing economic loans in affected states and territories. These low-interest loans will help small businesses overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus. To this end, I am asking Congress to increase funding for this program by an additional $50 billion.
Using emergency authority, I will be instructing the Treasury Department to defer tax payments, without interest or penalties, for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted. This action will provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy.
Finally, I am calling on Congress to provide Americans with immediate payroll tax relief. Hopefully they will consider this very strongly.
We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus. We made a life-saving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe. We will not delay. I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health, and safety of the American people. I will always put the wellbeing of America first.
If we are vigilant — and we can reduce the chance of infection, which we will — we will significantly impede the transmission of the virus. The virus will not have a chance against us.
No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States. We have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare, and the most talented doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world.
We are all in this together. We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family.
As history has proven time and time again, Americans always rise to the challenge and overcome adversity.
Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine. Acting with compassion and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow citizens, and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before.
God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you.
9:12 P.M. EDT
** The travel suspension order is already posted [emphasis added]:
Proclamation—Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus
HEALTHCARE | Issued on: March 11, 2020
On January 31, 2020, I issued Proclamation 9984 (Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus and Other Appropriate Measures To Address This Risk). I found that the potential for widespread transmission of a novel (new) coronavirus (which has since been renamed “SARS-CoV-2” and causes the disease COVID-19) (“SARS-CoV-2” or “the virus”) by infected individuals seeking to enter the United States threatens the security of our transportation system and infrastructure and the national security. Because the outbreak of the virus was at the time centered in the People’s Republic of China, I suspended and limited the entry of all aliens who were physically present within the People’s Republic of China, excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, subject to certain exceptions. On February 29, 2020, in recognition of the sustained person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the Islamic Republic of Iran, I issued Proclamation 9992 (Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus), suspending and limiting the entry of all aliens who were physically present within the Islamic Republic of Iran during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, subject to certain exceptions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a component of the Department of Health and Human Services, has determined that the virus presents a serious public health threat, and CDC continues to take steps to prevent its spread. But CDC, along with State and local health departments, has limited resources, and the public health system could be overwhelmed if sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus occurred in the United States on a large scale. Sustained human-to-human transmission has the potential to cause cascading public health, economic, national security, and societal consequences.
The World Health Organization has determined that multiple countries within the Schengen Area are experiencing sustained person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2. For purposes of this proclamation, the Schengen Area comprises 26 European states: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The Schengen Area currently has the largest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of the People’s Republic of China. As of March 11, 2020, the number of cases in the 26 Schengen Area countries is 17,442, with 711 deaths, and shows high continuous growth in infection rates. In total, as of March 9, 2020, the Schengen Area has exported 201 COVID-19 cases to 53 countries. Moreover, the free flow of people between the Schengen Area countries makes the task of managing the spread of the virus difficult.
The United States Government is unable to effectively evaluate and monitor all of the travelers continuing to arrive from the Schengen Area. The potential for undetected transmission of the virus by infected individuals seeking to enter the United States from the Schengen Area threatens the security of our transportation system and infrastructure and the national security. Given the importance of protecting persons within the United States from the threat of this harmful communicable disease, I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. The free flow of commerce between the United States and the Schengen Area countries remains an economic priority for the United States, and I remain committed to facilitating trade between our nations.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including sections 212(f) and 215(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f) and 1185(a), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, hereby find that the unrestricted entry into the United States of persons described in section 1 of this proclamation would, except as provided for in section 2 of this proclamation, be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and that their entry should be subject to certain restrictions, limitations, and exceptions. I therefore hereby proclaim the following:
Section 1. Suspension and Limitation on Entry. The entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States is hereby suspended and limited subject to section 2 of this proclamation.
Sec. 2. Scope of Suspension and Limitation on Entry.
(a) Section 1 of this proclamation shall not apply to:
(i) any lawful permanent resident of the United States;
(ii) any alien who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
(iii) any alien who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;
(iv) any alien who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
(v) any alien who is the child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
(vi) any alien traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
(vii) any alien traveling as a nonimmigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as a crewmember or any alien otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew;
(viii) any alien
(A) seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to one of the following visas: A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO categories); or
(B) whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement;
(ix) any alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the CDC Director or his designee;
(x) any alien whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;
(xi) any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees; or
(xii) members of the U.S. Armed Forces and spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
(b) Nothing in this proclamation shall be construed to affect any individual’s eligibility for asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the regulations issued pursuant to the legislation implementing the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, consistent with the laws and regulations of the United States.
Sec. 3. Implementation and Enforcement. (a) The Secretary of State shall implement this proclamation as it applies to visas pursuant to such procedures as the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, may establish. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall implement this proclamation as it applies to the entry of aliens pursuant to such procedures as the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, may establish.
(b) Consistent with applicable law, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Transportation, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall ensure that any alien subject to this proclamation does not board an aircraft traveling to the United States.
(c) The Secretary of Homeland Security may establish standards and procedures to ensure the application of this proclamation at and between all United States ports of entry.
(d) An alien who circumvents the application of this proclamation through fraud, willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or illegal entry shall be a priority for removal by the Department of Homeland Security.
Sec. 4. Termination. This proclamation shall remain in effect until terminated by the President. The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall recommend that the President continue, modify, or terminate this proclamation as described in section 5 of Proclamation 9984, as amended.
Sec. 5. Effective Date. This proclamation is effective at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 13, 2020. This proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 13, 2020.
Sec. 6. Severability. It is the policy of the United States to enforce this proclamation to the maximum extent possible to advance the national security, public safety, and foreign policy interests of the United States. Accordingly:
(a) if any provision of this proclamation, or the application of any provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this proclamation and the application of its provisions to any other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby; and
(b) if any provision of this proclamation, or the application of any provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be invalid because of the lack of certain procedural requirements, the relevant executive branch officials shall implement those procedural requirements to conform with existing law and with any applicable court orders.
Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this proclamation shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This proclamation shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This proclamation is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fourth.
DONALD J. TRUMP