WASHINGTON (AP) The U.S. is banning travel to Iran in response to the outbreak of the new coronavirus and elevating travel warnings to regions of Italy and South Korea.
Vice President Mike Pence announced the new restrictions and warnings as President Donald Trump said 22 people in the U.S. have been stricken by the new coronavirus, of whom one has died and four are deemed very ill and that additional cases are likely.
Trump added that he was considering additional restrictions, including closing the U.S. border with Mexico in response to the virus spread though he added: This is not a border that seems to be much of a problem right now.
Were thinking about all borders, Trump said.
Trump provided an update on the virus from the White House press briefing room for the second time this week after the first reported U.S. death Saturday, of someone he described as having a high medical risk before contracting the virus. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there was no evidence of link to travel in the case of the person who died.
On Friday, health officials confirmed a second case of coronavirus in the U.S. in a person who didnt travel internationally or have close contact with anyone who had the virus. The U.S. has a total of about 60 confirmed cases. Trumps tally appeared to exclude cases of Americans repatriated from two cruise ships in Asia.
Trump said healthy Americans should be able to recover if they contract the new virus, as he tried to reassure Americans and global markets spooked by the virus threat.
He encouraged Americans not to alter their daily routines, saying the country is super prepared for a wider outbreak, adding theres no reason to panic at all.
He added he wasnt altering his routine either. Youre talking about 22 people right now in this whole very vast country. I think well be in very good shape.
Trump spoke a day after he denounced criticism of his response to the threat as a hoax cooked up by his political enemies. Speaking at a rally in South Carolina he accused Democrats of politicizing the coronavirus threat and boasted about preventive steps hes ordered in an attempt to keep the virus that originated in China from spreading across the United States. Those steps include barring entry by most foreign nationals who had recently visited China.
They tried the impeachment hoax. This is their new hoax, Trump said of Democratic denunciations of his administrations coronavirus response.
Trump said Saturday he was not trying to minimize the threat of the virus.
Again, the hoax was used in respect to Democrats and what they were saying, he said.
Some Democrats have said Trump could have acted sooner to bolster the U.S. response to the virus. Democratic and Republican lawmakers also have said his request for an additional $2.5 billion to defend against the virus isnt enough. Theyve signaled they will provide substantially more funding.
Trump said Democrats want him to fail and argued that steps hes taken so far have kept cases to a minimum and prevented virus deaths in the U.S.
As global markets plunged this week, Trump predicted they will come back, and encouraged the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates.
The markets will all come back, he said. I think the Fed has a very important role, especially psychological. If you look at it, the Fed has a massive impact.
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