President Donald Trump’s top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said Monday that he no longer thinks the U.S. has the deadly coronavirus “contained,” as he said less than a month earlier.
Asked on Feb. 25 about the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which is believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Kudlow told CNBC that the Trump administration has kept the U.S. “pretty close to airtight.”
On Monday – as more than 35,000 cases and at least 470 deaths from the virus were confirmed in the U.S. – Kudlow said, “I’ve changed my view.”
“Nobody could have predicted or expected this,” Kudlow said on CNBC’s “The Exchange.”
Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said that he had claimed the coronavirus was contained in the U.S. “right after the president boldly put travel restrictions on China.”
Trump declared the coronavirus a public health emergency on Jan. 31, and imposed some travel restrictions and quarantine measures for individuals coming into the U.S. from abroad.
“When I said that, it was true, factually,” Kudlow added. “I’m as good as the facts. The facts changed, of course I’ve changed my view.”
But high-level officials, including some within the Trump administration, were warning of the grave threat posed by the virus even before Kudlow’s late-February remarks.
Three days before Kudlow claimed the virus was contained, White House coronavirus task force member Anthony Fauci said on CNN: “At this particular moment … the risk is very low. But, and I have to underline ‘but’, this could change, and it could change rapidly.”
“If this evolves into a pandemic, there’s no way we in the United States are going to escape having more infections in this country,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in that Feb. 22 interview.
The World Health Organization classified the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11.
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