March 11 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump announced Wednesday night that the United States will suspend travel to the country from Europe in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Addressing the nation from the Oval Office of the White House, Trump said the United States will ban travel from European countries for 30 days beginning at midnight Friday in order to prevent new cases of the coronavirus from entering the country.
"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," Trump said.
Trump said the ban will not affect travel from Britain and there will be exemptions for Americans overseas who have undergone appropriate screenings.
Trump said he is also instructing the Small Business Administration to provide low-interest loans to small businesses affected by the coronavirus and asking Congress to increase funding for this program by $50 billion and provide Americans with immediate payroll tax relief.
The briefing came after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced 31 Americans have died from the COVID-19 outbreak and more than 1,000 have been sickened.
The State Department on Wednesday also issued a Global Level 3 Health Advisory, urging U.S. citizens "to reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19."
Trump warned that the highest risk remains among the elderly population with underlying health conditions and strongly advised nursing homes for the elderly to suspend all medically unnecessary visits and encouraged older people to avoid unnecessary travel.
"Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow," Trump said.