President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he would be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days amid the growing coronavirus outbreak.
"The European Union failed to take the same precautions (early on),” Trump said, speaking from the Oval Office Wednesday night. “As a result, a lot of new clusters in the United States were seeded from travelers from Europe.”
The travel ban goes into effect Friday at midnight. The U.K. and Americans who have been screened will be exempt from the restrictions.
Trump also announced a series of economic relief actions but did not offer any new measures to stop the spread domestically.
The president said earlier Wednesday he would be making "both" health and economic related announcements in the Oval Office address, which comes as the number of coronavirus cases across the country exceeded 1,000, with at least 33 deaths. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 1,400 points.
Trump's earlier remarks came during what he described as a "very important meeting" with big bank executives in the White House.
The president had been vague about what measures he might announce, but said, “We’ll be doing a lot of additional work with small businesses ... many billions of dollars” and "additional solutions."
He said he has “already made some decisions actually today but I'll be making some other ones that are very important.”
The president, who's been criticized for focusing on the financial impact of the virus's spread, told reporters, “Our number one priority is the health of the people of our country.”
He said he was optimistic the economy would get back to normal "in a short term period."
"We’re having to fix a problem that four weeks ago nobody thought would be a problem,” Trump said.
"This came out of nowhere, and actually it came out of China."
Asked by a reporter what he would "say to Americans who are concerned that you're not taking this seriously enough and that some of your statements don't match what your health experts are saying," Trump said, "That's CNN. Fake news."
Trump has only delivered a prime time Oval Office address once before, on Jan.8, 2019, when he called for $5 billion to build a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border during a partial government shutdown.