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Updated at 1:53 p.m. ET
The U.S. is extending the current ban on travel from Europe to include the U.K. and Ireland, effective midnight Monday, the Trump administration said Saturday.
Speaking at the White House, President Trump said he’s considering domestic travel restrictions as well in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it,” Trump said. “We want this thing to end. We don’t want a lot of people getting infected.”
The travel ban does not apply to American citizens, legal permanent residents, their immediate families, and certain others. These people will be channeled through one of 13 airports equipped to do special screening.
The Trump administration also said the number of Americans who have died of the novel coronavirus now stands at 50, with more than 2,200 cases in the country.
Trump also said he was tested for the coronavirus Friday night and that the results would be available in a “day or two.” He said his temperature had been taken prior to entering the press room and when asked, he said it was “totally normal.”
The Department of Defense also halted domestic travel for all service members, civilian employees and their families. The Pentagon announced the travel restrictions in a memorandum released Friday night, explaining that — with few exceptions — the ban applies to all personnel assigned to its facilities in states and territories throughout the U.S., beginning Monday.
“These restrictions are necessary to preserve force readiness, limit the continuing spread of the virus, and preserve the health and welfare of Service members, DoD civilian employees, their families, and the local communities in which we live,” Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist said in the memo.
The order, which adds to the Pentagon’s foreign travel restrictions announced earlier this month, carves out exceptions for just a handful of “compelling cases” — including travel that’s deemed necessary for medical treatment, a particular mission or humanitarian reasons. Aside from these cases, Defense Department personnel have been told to stay put until at least May 11.
The order comes amid a flurry of actions at the federal level to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, which the World Health Organization officially classified as a global pandemic earlier this week. President Trump declared the virus a national emergency Friday, freeing up tens of billions in federal funds just hours before the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a sweeping relief package of its own, which Trump says he supports.
Now, the bill is expected to head to the Senate, where its fate remains unclear.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of noon Saturday, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the deadly disease caused by the novel coronavirus — in the U.S. topped 2,200. It is in nearly every state, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
Of the patients who developed COVID-19, more than 40 have died.
“Most states have been impacted, but most only have a few cases,” Nancy Messonnier of the CDC explained in a recorded statement. “And it is still only a few states that have most of the cases and have sustained community spread.”
In a statement issued Friday, Apple joined the chorus of government agencies and businesses announcing sweeping changes to combat the virus’s spread, saying that it plans to temporarily close all of its retail stores outside China through at least March 27. At the same time, the company guaranteed pay for its hourly workers and says it has expanded its leave policies to support employees affected by COVID-19.
“There is no mistaking the challenge of this moment,” CEO Tim Cook said in the announcement. “And yet,” he added, “I have been inspired by the humanity and determination I have seen from all corners of our global community.”
Evidence of this solidarity was to be found in Italy — the hardest-hit country outside of mainland China, where the virus traces its epicenter. More than 1,200 people have died of COVID-19 in Italy, where hospitals have been overwhelmed by the number of cases and leaders have imposed travel restrictions on the entire country.
Still, the pandemic has not prevented Italians from singing — even if, for the sake of tamping down on the virus’s spread, they have to maintain their physical distance while doing so. Social media on Friday was awash with videos of people who stepped out onto their balconies, looked around at their neighbors and joined one another in song.