President Donald Trump said Thursday that markets will be "just fine" as stocks sold off in yet another dramatic session fueled by worries over the coronavirus pandemic and the administration's response to it.
Futures started selling off Wednesday night during Trump's address to the nation from the Oval Office, in which he labeled the coronavirus as a "foreign virus" and instituted a ban on foreign individuals traveling from 26 European countries into the U.S. for 30 days. Stock trading was halted briefly Thursday morning as the market plummet triggered a "circuit breaker."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid more than 2,000 points at its lows in Thursday's trading session, dragging the index deeper into bear-market territory. The Dow, which was in reach of the unprecedented 30,000-point marker just a few weeks earlier, now stands much closer to where it was on Trump's Election Day in November 2016.
The Dow closed at 18,332 that day. It was trading below 22,000 on Thursday.
"The markets are going to be just fine," Trump said as he greeted Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at the White House. Ireland was not among the European countries facing the travel ban, which takes effect Friday.
While Trump attempted to reassure the country that markets would recover from the impact of the virus, lawmakers on Capitol Hill signaled that a partisan fight was coming over a new emergency aid package. The Democrats' latest bill, unveiled to the public Wednesday night, is "unworkable" in its current form, said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
Congress and the White House have already taken steps to combat the spread of the deadly virus. The Trump administration in late January imposed travel restrictions and quarantines for certain individuals, and Trump expanded those travel restrictions to some parts of Europe in a rare Oval Office address Wednesday night. Last week, the president also signed into law an $8.3 billion emergency funding bill that sailed through Congress with near-unanimous support.
COVID-19, which is believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has infected more than 127,000 people and killed more than 4,700 around the world, Johns Hopkins University data shows. The World Health Organization took the significant step of declaring a pandemic Wednesday afternoon, anticipating a rise in the number of infections and deaths in affected countries.
Organizations and government officials in the U.S. at every level have taken steps to contain the growing crisis.
More than a dozen states and numerous cities have announced states of emergency. Health care providers are warning that an influx of patients could overburden their facilities. Organizations have begun postponing or canceling all manner of major public events — from the Coachella music festival to Chicago's St. Patrick's Day parade. Even the NCAA announced Wednesday that it will play its upcoming men's and women's basketball tournaments without fans due to the outbreak. And the NBA suspended the rest of its season.
Those preventative efforts, coupled with the immense strain of the virus on supply chains, have businesses and investors raising red flags.