President Donald Trump on Sunday announced new coronavirus screening procedures for travelers to the United States, a day after his administration unveiled other measures aimed at containing the COVID-19 virus.
“In addition to screening travelers ‘prior to boarding’ from certain designated high risk countries, or areas within those countries, they will also be screened when they arrive in America,” Trump tweeted Sunday morning.
Asked which countries would fall into the “high risk” designation, Trump mentioned, Katie Miller, a spokeswoman for Vice President Mike Pence, clarified later Sunday that “this will be expanded to Italy and South Korea. Additionally we are currently working on exit screening from South Korea, Italy, and other European Nations as needed.” Screening was already in place for those traveling into the US who have been in China in the last 14 days.
In a rare Saturday press conference, the Trump administration announced the State Department would raise the travel advisory level for parts of Italy and South Korea where the coronavirus has spread widely. The administration also announced expanded travel bans on Iran, another country that the virus has ravaged as it spreads across the globe.
Trump and top members of his coronavirus task force have sought to calm fears that sent markets tumbling last week.
Trump on Saturday warned Americans that although more cases are “likely,” most healthy people who contract the illness will recover and the risk to the average American remains low. And Pence told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that while the administration knows there will be more cases and that it’s possible Americans could die from the disease, “the American people should know the risk for the average American remains low.”
Members of the administration’s coronavirus task force – of which Trump placed Pence in charge earlier this week – have met frequently as they weigh measures aimed at stopping a wide outbreak in the US.
Pence told Tapper that more than 15,000 testing kits are in the mail to state and local clinics.
Officials, though, have warned people against buying masks in preparation for coronavirus, saying doing so could place a strain on the resources health care providers need to provide treatment safely.
Minutes before the President’s press conference Saturday, Washington state confirmed the first US death from coronavirus.
The President said Saturday that there are now 22 cases of the novel coronavirus in the US. This number does not include individuals repatriated to the United States from Wuhan, China, or from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Those cases have been counted separately by the CDC.
This story has been updated with additional developments Sunday.
CNN’s Chandelis Duster, Carolina Kelly and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this story.