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Trump tests negative for coronavirus, extends travel ban to Britain, Ireland

WASHINGTON / CHICAGO (Reuters) – Donald Trump has tested negative for coronavirus, his doctor said on Saturday, as the president of the United States extended the travel ban to Britain and Ireland to try to slow the spread of a pandemic that has shut down much of the daily routine of American life.

After White House officials took the unprecedented step to check the temperatures of journalists entering the meeting room, Trump told reporters that he had tested the virus on Friday evening. On Saturday night, his doctor, Sean Conley, said the results were negative.

Last week the President of the United States met with a Brazilian delegation, of which at least one member tested positive.

Trump said Americans should reconsider non-essential travel and that his administration is also considering restrictions on domestic travel.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said the country has recorded 2,226 new coronavirus cases but has not yet reached the peak of the epidemic.

“This will get worse before it gets better,” said surgeon general Jerome Adams during the briefing. But, he added, “99% of people will recover and people will need to know.”

Critics accused Trump of focusing too much on the markets, which on Friday saw the top three Wall Street indices gain over 9% after having had the worst day since 1987 on Thursday.

However, all three indices were down at least 8% during the week and around 20% below the historical highs of mid-February.

At the briefing, Trump told reporters that “he was honored to see that the stock exchange hit a record in a short period of time over a 45-minute period.” He called it an “all-time record” that he hoped could be repeated every day.

“They said, ‘Sir, you just set a record in the history of the stock market. It was quite good. Those big companies that were there, they couldn’t have been too unhappy about it … They are all big publicly traded companies, so they did a good job, “he said before passing the microphone to Vice President Mike Pence, who runs the White House response to the outbreak.

Pence said the administration is extending to travel restrictions on Britain and Ireland that were initially imposed on China and expanded to continental Europe this week.

FLYING CUTS OF THE AIRLINES PLAN

US airlines, which have already been hit by restrictions and a sharp drop in demand, said Saturday that they were preparing further flight cuts. Pence said the new restrictions will go into effect at midnight on Monday.

Chad Wolf, interim secretary of the U.S. National Security Department, said Trump had decided to add Britain to the travel ban due to the growing number of coronavirus cases. Health authorities in England announced 10 more deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, nearly doubling the number of victims in Britain since Friday.

A senior DHS official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Britain and Ireland were added because the United States was unable to determine effectively whether travelers from those countries were trying to evade the European travel ban.

“The travel investigation was not managed effectively on our side,” said the senior DHS official.

United States President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference with members of the Coronavirus Task Force at the White House in Washington, United States, on March 14, 2020. REUTERS / Yuri Gripas

US citizens and legal residents will still be able to return home and be channeled through some airports, Pence said.

The vice president also told reporters that visits to nursing homes have been suspended to protect the most vulnerable. A nursing home in Washington state has been home to most coronavirus deaths in the United States.

On Saturday, New York officials said an 82-year-old woman became the first fatality of the state’s coronavirus.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the woman, who had previously suffered from emphysema, was hospitalized on March 3. He told reporters that the state’s case count has risen to 524. At the national level, at least 52 people have died.

CLEAN SHELVES

The pandemic forced public schools, sporting events and cultural and entertainment venues to close in the United States.

American shoppers picked up the shelves of clean grocery stores from products ranging from disinfectants and toilet paper to rice and milk, causing retailers to rush to supply their stores. In response to the rush on some items, major retailers have imposed some purchase limits. On Saturday morning, around 500 people were lined up two blocks outside Costco in Garden Grove, California, waiting for the store to open.

Long lines of shoppers have been reported outside grocery stores in other parts of the United States.

On Friday, Trump declared a national emergency in a move that said it would bring “the full power of the federal government” to cope with the growing health crisis by freeing up around $ 50 billion in aid. It also called on all states to set up emergency centers to help fight the virus.

Presentation (21 pictures)

On Saturday, the United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a coronavirus aid package that would provide free tests and sick pay in an attempt to limit the economic damage resulting from the outbreak.

Economists say the impact of the epidemic on business could lead to the recession in the United States economy.

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago, Jan Wolfe, David Shepardson, Jeff Mason and Joel Schectman in Washington, and Barbara Goldberg, Kate Duguid and Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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