In a span of just two hours, Americans heard a stunning series of announcements as the spread of the virus – also known as COVID-19 – continued. The dizzying series of developments came even as coronavirus fears continued to wreak havoc on the financial markets, which entered bear market territory on Wednesday and were headed for another day of red on Thursday, as futures dipped more than 1,200 points.
Around 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, President Trump told the nation from the Oval Office that he is calling for a temporary halt on air travel to the U.S. from Europe, excluding flights from Britain and those carrying cargo, in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
"The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared, or more resilient," Trump said.
"The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared, or more resilient."
Around 10 p.m. actor Tom Hanks revealed he and wife Rita Wilson had tested positive for the virus while in Australia.
Around the same time, the NBA announced it is suspending its basketball season until further notice, after a Utah Jazz player tested positive.
Then, around 11 p.m., New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the postponement of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade — a tradition older than America itself.
The four announcements came on the same day the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic and as confirmed U.S. cases topped the 1,200 mark, with the nation grappling with a problem for which no clear end was immediately in sight.
Public tours of the White House and U.S. Capitol were temporarily halted — “in an abundance of caution,” the White House said on its phone line for visitor information, the Washington Examiner reported.
As of early Thursday, more than 110 nations had reported at least one case of the novel coronavirus, Time magazine reported.
More than 126,000 cases have been reported worldwide, including more than 68,000 recoveries, according to reports. The global death toll stood early Thursday at more than 4,600.