LOS ANGELES, CA — A day after assuring Americans the coronavirus “will go away,” President Donald Trump addressed the nation to announce a ban on air travel to the United States from European countries.
The abrupt shift in tone and policy came the same day the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be a global pandemic and universities cancelled in-person classes, conferences and festivals were scrapped, the NBA canceled the remainder of its season, and the stock market dove into bear territory.
“The virus will not have a chance against us,” Trump said told Americans in his 10-minute speech.
Shortly after the announcement, the White House corrected portions of Tump’s speech, clarifying that it affects only to foreign travelers and not U.S. citizens or goods coming into the country as Trump indicated on air. The ban on air travel to the United States from Europe will remain in place for the next 30 days, although the restriction will not apply to the United Kingdom.
It was not immediately clear how many flights into Los Angeles International Airport the ban will affect, or how many passengers arrive at LAX on a daily basis. An airport spokeswoman reached after hours told City News Service that officials were still processing the news and working to gauge its impact.
In an address from the White House, Trump said he is “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’ll significantly reduce the threat to our citizens and we’ll ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.”
Trump reiterated the warning for people to take personal precautions against the spread of the virus.