The State Department is on the verge of instructing all Americans to refrain from traveling overseas, media reports say.
The reports from Politico and Bloomberg cites knowledgeable sources, including State Department officials.
The State Department is also instructing those already abroad to either return home or shelter in place in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic. Shelter in place means to stay home, except for essential outings.
That’s all part of a Level 4 travel advisory, which the department's website calls "the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance."
Currently in place is a Level 3 warning, which encourages American not to venture overseas.
Veteran diplomats told Politico they don’t remember a Level 4 advisory being issued before.
President Donald Trump said he would speak with the State Department “later” about the advisory upgrade, Bloomberg reported.
The State Department said Thursday that U.S. passport agencies will accept applications only from customers with life-threatening emergencies who plan to travel within 72 hours.
Thousands of U.S. citizens are stranded abroad, which could create some logistical problems for those trying to get home. Flights will likely be difficult to come by, as foreign nations have restricted travel, too.
Last week, Trump banned almost all European travelers from entering the U.S., and earlier this week, the State Department raised its travel warning to Level 3.
More than 236,700 people have contracted the coronavirus worldwide, and 9,818 of them have died, according to Worldometer. The numbers for the U.S. are 11,348 people infected and 161 dead.
Economists say the pandemic will push the U.S. economy into recession, and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has said the downturn could be as bad as the 2007-09 recession.