Amid what the World Health Organization has now called a global pandemic, President Donald Trump sat down in the Oval Office on Wednesday evening in a televised address outlining his administration’s response to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak sweeping the globe.
“This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history,” said Trump. “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.”
European Travel Ban
In the address, which clocked in at just under 10 minutes, Trump laid out his plan for addressing the crisis, starting with the suspension of travel from Europe (except for the United Kingdom) beginning Friday at midnight, given the European Union’s failure to ban travel from China, as the United States had done previously, to contain the spread of the virus.
“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.”
Texas is a major hub for international flights, with Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport alone operating nearly 1,900 flights a day and serving over 75 million passengers in 2019, making it the fourth busiest airport in the world by aircraft movement.
The administration later clarified that the travel restrictions would not include United Kingdom or American nationals. But the country’s biggest airlines, including American, Delta, and United, are cutting back on flights during the crisis, meaning Texans that currently find themselves across the pond should book flights while supply is still available.
Trump also acknowledged the continued closures of schools and events due to the virus, saying his administration was “coordinating directly with communities with the largest outbreaks” and had “issued guidance on school closures, social distancing, and reducing large gatherings.”
In Texas, this has not only meant the cancellation of events like the popular South by Southwest Festival in Austin and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, but it has also meant the closure of accommodations made to universities across the state. For example, Texas A&M University has announced plans to move to online classes and the University of Texas at Austin announced it would extend its spring break by one week and move to online classes afterwards. Baylor University made the same decision and plans to offer online classes for the following two weeks.
Various school districts in the Houston area will keep their doors closed after spring break. For example, Fort Bend ISD is closing schools for two additional weeks. Other schools districts around the state are expected to make similar decisions in the coming days.
NCAA athletic events continue to be canceled and postponed at this time.
Speaking of sports, the NBA has suspended the basketball season, meaning fans of the Dallas Mavericks, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Houston Rockets will have to stay home. So too has the MLB, putting the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers on hiatus.
The XFL, a new spring football league that started this year with teams in Dallas and Houston, is also reportedly suspending operations.
Trump also took the opportunity to call on Congress to issue “immediate payroll tax relief,” adding, “Hopefully, they will consider this very strongly.”
Indeed, one of Trump’s biggest accomplishments during his first term in office has been the tax-cut package he shepherded through Congress in 2017, which has significantly helped eased the tax burden on millions of middle-class Americans.
In Texas, additional tax relief would be welcome after the state legislature came up short last year in providing meaningful property tax relief.
Despite not having a state income tax, Texas has one of the highest property tax burdens in the nation, beating out even some of the most liberal states, such as New York and California.
Trump cannot pass tax relief alone, however, and it remains to be seen how such a proposal would pass through the Democrat-led House of Representatives.
As the virus continues to spread, The White House encourages monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Coronavirus webpage for more information.