President Donald Trump said in an Oval Office speech Wednesday that he will halt all travel to the U.S. from Europe, with the exception of the UK, in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Trump spoke after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be a pandemic, with global consequences earlier Wednesday.
"We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the U.S. for the next 30 days," Trump said.
U.S. stocks fell sharply again, Wednesday, with the Dow Industrials falling into bear market territory.
Trump said his administration is "marshalling the full power of the federal government" and private sector to combat what he called this "foreign virus."
He said he would order the Small Business Administration to provide relief loans to hard-hit companies as well as seeking Congressional approval of a suspension of payroll taxes.
Although incidents of Covid-19 in China appears to have slowed, according to official statistics, it has now spread to dozens of other countries, including the U.S.
Nearly 1,300 U.S. cases have been confirmed and 36 patients have died, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
Local governments have banned gatherings of more than a few hundred people, and the NCAA has said no fans will be allowed to attend the normally raucous March Madness college basketball tournament.
Hard-hit Italy has gone on a nationwide lockdown, as it battles more than 12,000 cases. More than 800 patients have died in Italy. Iran has more than 9,000 confirmed cases.
Trump said he will move to expand economic relief for hard-hit American industries, including airlines, travel and hotel companies, as well as oil companies.