Trump suspends travel from Europe
Last updated 3/11/2020 at 8:13pm
President Donald Trump took the extraordinary step Wednesday of announcing a suspension of all travel from Europe to the U.S. in an effort to contain the coronavirus, calling the fast-spreading respiratory illness a "horrible" disease that requires an "aggressive" response.
After downplaying the virus for days, Trump struck a serious tone in a national address from the Oval Office and announced that the travel ban will go into effect Friday and last for the next 30 days.
"To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States," Trump said.
Earlier in the day, House Democrats scrambled to roll out legislation that would provide economic relief for thousands of people forced out of work by the coronavirus.
The mad dash came as the World Health Organization officially designated the virus as a global pandemic, a rare label that has only been used for a handful of diseases over the course of history. The U.S. death toll from the respiratory illness, meanwhile, climbed to 37 and the number of infections surpassed 1,100, with more than 200 in New York.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi briefed members of her party behind closed doors on an economic relief package that would cover sick pay, food assistance, free medical tests and unemployment assistance for families whose lives have been upended by the virus, a Democratic aide told the Daily News.
The price tag for the relief measure was not immediately known, but voting on it is expected as early as Thursday.
The Democratic plan was expected to rebuff Trump's broader call for a stimulus package that would prop up the shaky U.S. economy by implementing a payroll tax holiday through the end of the year and forking over federal subsidies to industries hit hard by the coronavirus.
Trump pitched Senate Republicans on such a sweeping stimulus measure Tuesday. However, he offered few specifics and Republicans appeared unlikely to support the costly proposal.
Democrats signaled they are interested in providing immediate relief for workers instead of providing aid to companies in a bid to ease the stock market, which has suffered historic losses in recent days amid growing fears over the virus.
"Right now we're trying to deal with the direct impact of the virus on individual citizens," House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said.