It’s hard to keep up with everything coronavirus, and generally I don’t recommend it. But if you happened to take a long walk in the past few hours, or have been re-watching Contagion, there are a few Covid-19 developments you might have missed.
If Americans didn’t already think this was getting real—well, it is now.
In a statement from the Oval Office on Wednesday, US president Donald Trump said all flights from Europe to the US (excluding Britain) would be suspended for 30 days. He later clarified the ban would make exceptions for cargo, US citizens, and permanent residents, and is scheduled to begin, inauspiciously, on Friday the 13th. As Natasha Frost wrote:
Speaking from the Oval Office in a televised presidential address, Trump described these “strong but necessary” actions to keep the “foreign virus” at bay. He also indicated that health insurance companies had agreed to waive copayments and extend coverage for Covid-19 treatment.
To minimize the impact, Trump called for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide $50 billion in loans to affected companies, while tax payments are to be deferred to add $200 billion in liquidity to the economy. “This is not a financial crisis,” he said. “This is just a temporary moment in time that we will overcome as a nation and a world.”
The ban, set provisionally for 30 days, is expected to have significant economic effects on the US economy, as well as on the already-suffering airline industry worldwide. Immediately following the announcement, US stock futures fell an average of about 1.4%, across the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq.
If you were hoping to take your mind off things with an NBA game, unfortunately that’s no longer an option. The season is being suspended until further notice after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to a statement from the NBA, “the affected player” was not in the arena, and the league will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The NCAA March Madness tournament is still on for now, but instead of stadiums full of fans, the games’ audience will include “only essential staff and limited family attendance.” Presumably, everyone will still be able to watch on television.
Finally, American national treasures and married couple Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson tested positive for the coronavirus. Hanks is being very Tom Hanks about the whole thing, from addressing the world with an announcement beginning “Hello, folks,” to making a point of adhering to medical protocol in Australia, where he was filming a Baz Luhrmann biopic of Elvis Presley.
Here’s his statement, from a caption on Instagram:
Hello, folks. Rita and I are down here in Australia. We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches. Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive.
Well, now. What to do next? The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks’ will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?
We’ll keep the world posted and updated.
Take care of yourselves!
Politico also reported that a staff member in US senator Maria Cantwell’s office tested positive for coronavirus, which would be the first test tied to Congress. That story is still developing.
That’s all for now, folks.
This story was updated to reflect clarifications to European travel restrictions.