DOT Secretary Responds to Coronavirus Impact Amid “Unprecedented” Actions
Washington D.C. – The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Elaine Chao, spoke out today about the “unprecedented” actions being taken to contain the spread of COVID-19, known as the coronavirus.
“The President and the administration have taken unprecedented steps to protect the American people through a whole-of-government approach, including these recent steps to further protect Americans from areas where the virus has spread significantly,” Chao said on Thursday. “The federal government’s swift actions have saved lives and will reduce the number of Americans impacted.”
Her comments come after President Trump addressed the nation from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening to announce sweeping new travel restrictions.
“After consulting with our top government health professionals I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and well-being of all Americans,” President Trump said. “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.”
Further, Mr. Trump pointed out that exemptions will be provided, including for trade and cargo.
“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.”
On Thursday, White House officials again confirmed cargo and trade is not included in the 30-day restrictions.
While additional security protocols are in place to properly vet imports and exports, federal officials do not expect the measures to create delays.
Pandemic and Markets Panic
At the time of this publishing, total confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. has now topped 1,200 and the death toll has risen to 36, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Worldwide confirmed cases has now risen above 120,000 prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the virus a pandemic.
“We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.
President Trump took action last month by putting restrictions on travel to and from China.
In his Wednesday address to the nation, he criticized European leaders for being slow to act.
“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.”
Widespread health concerns have prompted cancellations of many forms of public gatherings including major sporting events, concerts, and conferences.
Trucking events have also been impacted as the organizers of the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) announced today they are cancelling this year’s event.
READ more about the MATS cancellation HERE.
Fears about COVID-19 are also taking a toll on the global markets as U.S. stocks tumbled more than 9% on Thursday.
The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all crashed in response.
The S&P 500 dropped 9.5%, or 260.62 points, in its largest percentage decline since the Black Monday crash of October 19, 1987.
As concerns seem to be increasing in the face of the crisis, Secretary Chao says the DOT will continue to “work closely with our partners across the transportation system to prioritize safety.”