Pence says Americans returning from Europe will be asked to quarantine

Vice President Mike Pence says all Americans returning from coronavirus ‘epicenter’ Europe will be asked to quarantine for 14 days and reveals Trump ordered private labs to ‘spin up’ production of tests last week

  • Pence said on Thursday that Europe was now the ‘epicenter’ of coronavirus
  • He revealed that all Americans returning from Europe now will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days 
  • Trump announced on Wednesday night that flights from the majority of Europe would be suspended for 30 days from midnight on Friday 
  • His list does not include the UK and Ireland and it does not apply to all goods
  • Questions remain over what will happen to them, how the ban will affect trade and imports, and who it applies to  
  • Pence also revealed that private labs had been asked to mass produce COVID-19 tests ‘at the direction of the president’ 
  • Lab Corp and Quest Diagnostics have both developed tests for the virus
  • There are currently 1,315 people with coronavirus in the US and more than 125,000 globally 

Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday said all Americans returning from Europe will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to try to stunt the spread of the coronavirus. 

Pence spoke on Good Morning America, among other shows, on Thursday, hours after President Trump stunned the world by suspending flights from Europe to the US for 30 days from midnight on Friday. 

The UK and Ireland are not included in the ban, for reasons he is yet to explain. 

The White House has also not yet explained what will be done, if anything, to stop people traveling from other countries in Europe to the UK or Ireland then boarding flights to the US to work around the ban. 

Trump’s announcement on Wednesday marked a dramatic change in tone from the president who, up until Tuesday, had been telling the public not to panic and claiming the virus – which has claimed thousands of lives now worldwide – would go away on its own. 

Vice President Pence said on Thursday that the administration had been taking the threat seriously from the beginning but that the unprecedented move to ban European travel was taken as the number of cases there exploded. 

He also said there had been ‘irresponsible rhetoric’ that may have downplayed the seriousness of the crisis, but did not prescribe it to Trump.  

He also revealed that the president had asked private laboratories, Lab Corp and Quest Diagnostics – both of which have developed tests that can be used despite not yet being FDA approved because they comply to certain guidelines – to ‘spin up’ production of them. 

One of the consistent criticisms of the government’s response to the emergency is how slow it has been to produce and make tests for the virus widely and readily available.

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Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday morning that Americans returning to the US from Europe would be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days

‘There’s been some irresponsible rhetoric. 

‘But the American people should know that President Trump has no higher priority than the health and safety and well being of the people of this country,’ he said.   

‘We have all have known from the beginning that the coronavirus would continue to spread across this country, it’s one of the reasons president trump took decisive action to put the health of the American people first not only declaring a public health emergency in January but that same month, suspending all travel from China and quarantining everyone returning from the region.

‘Since then, we’ve issued travel advisories to Italy, South Korea… but frankly as we watched the epicenter of the coronavirus shift from China and South Korea to Europe, the president thought it was proper for us to impose a 30 day suspension on all travel from continental Europe,’ he said.

There are already 1,315 cases of the virus in the US and 37 people have died. 

Many have asked what stopping travel from Europe will do to help the problem because the virus is already on US soil and spreading fast.  

But Pence said that stopping the flow of people from Europe, combined with boosting efforts on the ground here to contain the virus, would set the country on the right path.

‘The reality is just two weeks ago in Italy there were less than 500 now there’s 12,000.

‘We have tens of thousands of people who travel to the US from Europe every day.

Seventy percent new cases were in Europe. 

‘When we looked yesterday, 30 of the 35 states could be traced to contact to Europe. 

‘We want to stop the flow of people bringing the coronavirus here but also surge resources in California, Washington and New York where we’ve seen the spread – it’s a combination of efforts. 

‘The president showed again yesterday a willingness to take decisive action,’ he said. 

In a different interview, on Today, he resisted criticism of how slow the US had been in ramping up its testing and claimed the delay was because standards here for FDA-approved tests are higher than overseas. 

‘From early on in this effort we’ve been addressing the testing issue. We made changes through the FDA that allowed for state labs and university hospitals and hospitals to engage in testing and I’m pleased to report every state lab in America can do testing now. 

‘Many university laboratories are doing it. Washington State, the University of Washington is doing extraordinary work. 

‘But we are literally working hour by hour do expand the testing and we think the key, is going to be what we call commercial laboratories like Lab Coorp and Quest, who are already spinning up production at the president’s direction last week on tests that can be available on a broad basis in the days ahead for the American people. 

Oval Office address: Donald Trump finally addressed the nation about the coronavirus crisis from the White House on Wednesday and banned all travel to Europe

There was a mad dash for tickets back to the US from Europe on Thursday morning. Above, a line at the Delta desk in Charles de Gaulle airport 

A line of people at the Air France ticket desk at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on Thursday

‘We’re making real progress, but rest assured we’re going to continue to drive forward. 

‘But anyone that feels that they may have contracted the coronavirus should call their doctor. 

‘Their doctor can contact the state lab and determine where testing can take place today in all 50 states,’ he said. 



Most foreign nationals who have been in these countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States*


‘Legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation.’*

* according to Department of Homeland Security

Pence finally conceded that the virus was far deadlier than the flu for vulnerable people, which contradicts the president’s old advice for people not to panic because thousands end up in the hospital every year with influenza. 

‘According to all of our health experts on the White House coronavirus task force, it does not, as we look at global data, present as much a threat to younger Americans, particularly children under the age of 15. 

‘But for senior citizens with serious underlying health conditions, it represents a threat of very serious consequences. 

‘It’s one of the reasons why the president took the unprecedented step yesterday of suspending all travel from Europe, just as he has done so in January with China, and we’re going to be screening and asking every American who returns from Europe over the next 30 days to self-quarantine for 14 days. 

‘We want to focus on those that are most vulnerable but we also want to work on ensuring that the coronavirus is not further brought into our country from Europe. 

‘And we’re obviously continuing to focus in areas of California, Washington state and New York where we’ve seen what the experts call community spread,’ he said. 

Pence resisted giving a specific number when asked how many Americans would become infected. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s expert on coronavirus, has warned that it will infect millions of people. 

‘I’ll leave it to the experts to make the estimates of how many people may be infected,’ he said.  

Read the full text of Donald Trump’s address to the nation on the coronavirus crisis

My fellow Americans: Tonight, I want to speak with you about our nation’s unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and is now spreading throughout the world. 

Today, the World Health Organization officially announced that this is a global pandemic. 

We have been in frequent contact with our allies, and we are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people. 

This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history. 

I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus. 

From the beginning of time, nations and people have faced unforeseen challenges, including large-scale and very dangerous health threats. 

This is the way it always was and always will be. It only matters how you respond, and we are responding with great speed and professionalism. 

Our team is the best anywhere in the world. 

At the very start of the outbreak, we instituted sweeping travel restrictions on China and put in place the first federally mandated quarantine in over 50 years. 

We declared a public health emergency and issued the highest level of travel warning on other countries as the virus spread its horrible infection.

And taking early intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe. 

The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots. 

As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe. 

After consulting with our top government health professionals, I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and wellbeing of all Americans. 

To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. 

The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground.

There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval.

 Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. 

These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom. 

At the same time, we are monitoring the situation in China and in South Korea.

 And, as their situation improves, we will reevaluate the restrictions and warnings that are currently in place for a possible early opening. 

Earlier this week, I met with the leaders of health insurance industry who have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments, and to prevent surprise medical billing. 

We are cutting massive amounts of red tape to make antiviral therapies available in record time. 

These treatments will significantly reduce the impact and reach of the virus.

 Additionally, last week, I signed into law an $8.3 billion funding bill to help CDC and other government agencies fight the virus and support vaccines, treatments, and distribution of medical supplies. 

Testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly, day by day. We are moving very quickly. 

The vast majority of Americans: The risk is very, very low. Young and healthy people can expect to recover fully and quickly if they should get the virus. 

The highest risk is for elderly population with underlying health conditions.  

The elderly population must be very, very careful. In particular, we are strongly advising that nursing homes for the elderly suspend all medically unnecessary visits. 

In general, older Americans should also avoid nonessential travel in crowded areas. 

My administration is coordinating directly with communities with the largest outbreaks, and we have issued guidance on school closures, social distancing, and reducing large gatherings. 

Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow. 

Every community faces different risks and it is critical for you to follow the guidelines of your local officials who are working closely with our federal health experts — and they are the best. 

For all Americans, it is essential that everyone take extra precautions and practice good hygiene. 

Each of us has a role to play in defeating this virus. 

Wash your hands, clean often-used surfaces, cover your face and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and most of all, if you are sick or not feeling well, stay home. 

To ensure that working Americans impacted by the virus can stay home without fear of financial hardship, I will soon be taking emergency action, which is unprecedented, to provide financial relief. 

This will be targeted for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to coronavirus. 

I will be asking Congress to take legislative action to extend this relief. 

Because of the economic policies that we have put into place over the last three years, we have the greatest economy anywhere in the world, by far. 

Our banks and financial institutions are fully capitalized and incredibly strong. Our unemployment is at a historic low. 

This vast economic prosperity gives us flexibility, reserves, and resources to handle any threat that comes our way. 

This is not a financial crisis, this is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world. 

However, to provide extra support for American workers, families, and businesses, tonight I am announcing the following additional actions: I am instructing the Small Business Administration to exercise available authority to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus. 

Effective immediately, the SBA will begin providing economic loans in affected states and territories. 

These low-interest loans will help small businesses overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus. 

To this end, I am asking Congress to increase funding for this program by an additional $50 billion. 

Using emergency authority, I will be instructing the Treasury Department to defer tax payments, without interest or penalties, for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted. 

This action will provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy. 

Finally, I am calling on Congress to provide Americans with immediate payroll tax relief. 

Hopefully they will consider this very strongly. 

We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus. We made a life-saving move with early action on China. 

Now we must take the same action with Europe. We will not delay. 

I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health, and safety of the American people. 

I will always put the wellbeing of America first. 

If we are vigilant — and we can reduce the chance of infection, which we will — we will significantly impede the transmission of the virus. 

The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States. 

We have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare, and the most talented doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world. We are all in this together. 

We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family. 

As history has proven time and time again, Americans always rise to the challenge and overcome adversity. 

Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine. 

Acting with compassion and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow citizens, and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before. 

God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you.

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