For roughly 11 minutes Wednesday night, President Trump addressed the nation on the coronavirus outbreak that’s so far infected 1,269 Americans and killed at least 37. Along with the expected bluster — “Our team is the best anywhere in the world.” — and trademark Stephen Miller touches — referring to COVID-19 as a “foreign virus” — Trump laid out several actions he has taken or will take to prevent the spread of the virus.
Among his announcements were a ban on people and cargo coming from Europe and an agreement with health insurers to waive all co-payments for coronavirus-related treatment. The problem was, much of this was untrue. One hour after Trump’s speech ended, corrections from the Trump administration and insurance industry started streaming in. Among them:
On a European travel ban
What Trump said: “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. There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings.”
In reality: The travel restrictions don’t apply to “American citizens or legal permanent residents or their families,” tweeted Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, shortly after Trump’s speech. But that distinction was not at all clear from Trump’s speech, leading to mass confusion for American travelers in Europe who were under the impression that if they didn’t return home by Friday, they’d be stuck on the continent for the next month.
According to the DHS, the ban applies specifically to “most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States.” The counties covered are the 26 nations in the Schengen Area, which does not include England or Ireland, where Trump has golf courses.
On suspending trade with Europe
What Trump said: “These prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing.”
In reality: “The restriction stops people not goods,” Trump tweeted roughly an hour after going off the air. It’s a good thing, too, because for the 60 minutes during which it seemed as if trade with Europe would be suspended, futures markets were reeling.
On insurance companies covering co-pays
What Trump said: “Earlier this week I met with the leaders of the health-insurance industry who have agreed to waive all co-payments for coronavirus treatments.”
In reality: Co-payments for coronavirus testing, not treatments, have been suspended, a spokesperson for the lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans said.