President Trump is considering shutting down flights between coronavirus hot spot regions, he said Wednesday, while he also sent a warning to drug lords who could be looking to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis.
“I am looking at hot spots,” Trump said during a White House press briefing about potentially stopping domestic flights. “I am looking where flights are going into hot spots. Some of those flights I didn’t like from the beginning. But closing up every single flight on every single airline, that’s a very, very, very rough decision.
“But we are thinking about hot spots, where you go from spot to spot, both hot,” the president said. “We’ll let you know fairly soon.”
He was also asked about shutting down trains.
“It’s a very big decision to do that,” Trump said.
“When you start closing up entire transportation systems and then opening them up, that’s a very tough thing to do,” he said.
Trump also announced the launch of an enhanced counter-narcotics operation that’s intended to prevent drug lords from taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to smuggle drugs into the country.
“We must not let the drug cartels exploit the pandemic to threaten American lives,” Trump said.
“As governments and nations focus on the coronavirus, there’s a growing threat that cartels, criminals, terrorists and other malign actors will try to exploit the situation for their own gain,” Trump said. “And we must not let that happen. We will never let that happen.”
The United States, along with 22 partner nations, will increase surveillance and disruption of drug trafficking, and seizures of drug shipments, the president said.
The mission involves sending additional Navy warships, surveillance aircraft and special forces teams to nearly double the U.S. counter-narcotics capacity in the western hemisphere, with forces operating both in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific.
Thousands of sailors, Coast Guardsmen, soldiers, airmen and Marines are involved in this operation, according to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Mark Milley.
“We came upon some intelligence some time ago that the drug cartels as a result of COVID-19 were going to try to take advantage of the situation, and try to infiltrate additional drugs into our country,” Milley said.
“We’re at war with COVID-19, we’re at war with terrorists and we are at war with the drug cartels as well,” he said. “This is the United States military. You will not penetrate this country. You will not get past Jump Street. You’re not going to come in here and kill additional Americans.”
More than 210,000 people in the U.S. have tested positive for coronavirus, and more than 4,700 people have died. The U.S. leads the world in the number of confirmed cases.
Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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