President Donald Trump arrives for the daily coronavirus response briefing at the White House in Washington, April 1, 2020.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that his administration is considering halting some domestic flights and rail lines between coronavirus “hot spots,” or cities where COVID-19 has hit hard.
“I am looking where flights are going into hot spots. Some of those flights I didn’t like from the beginning,” Trump said at a White House briefing on the pandemic. Asked about rail travel, Trump said it was a “similar thing.”
Trump said he did not support grounding all domestic flights. A decision will be made soon, he said.
“Closing up every single flight on every single airline, that’s a very, very, very rough decision,” Trump said. “But we are thinking of hot spots, where you go from spot to spot, both hot.”
The worst of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak has been centered in the New York metropolitan area, though the virus has rapidly spread throughout the country. New Orleans, Seattle, Detroit and other major hubs — in addition to smaller cities and rural areas — have also been hit hard by COVID-19. Trump did not name any cities or routes in particular.
Trump said decisions about closing air and rail travel were “very big decisions from the standpoint of the future of our country in a way.”
“We have to get our country back, we have to start moving again, we have to start working again,” he said.
The airline industry has been hit hard by the unfolding public health crisis.
Airlines have slashed thousands of flights in a race to shrink to meet paltry demand and some executives have been forced to consider the chances of a broader shutdown of U.S. flights.
Carriers expect to make deeper cuts as demand falls further due to concerns about the virus and drastic measures such as stay-at-home measures to stop its spread.
Just 146,348 people were screened at U.S. airports on Tuesday, a nearly 93% decline from a year earlier, according to the Transportation Security Administration.