President Donald Trump and his administration's reaction to the global pandemic has been widely panned for its original dismissal of the virus's threat and the reluctance to use federal powers to assist afflicted states.
Trump responds to these criticisms by reminding people every chance he gets that he suspended travel from China—the epicenter of the virus at the time—on February 2.
In the two months since, the United States now leads the world in the number of cases, and health experts expect up to 240,000 deaths—and that's only if every precaution is taken.
The landscape of the pandemic has completely changed, but Trump continues to congratulate himself for suspending travel two months before.
But a new report from ABC News indicates that by the time Trump issued the order—when there were only 12 confirmed cases in the United States—it was already too late.
ABC found that some 18,000 travelers had come to the United States from China in the months between the first diagnosed case in China and Trump's announcement that travel would be suspended.
While more lives would have been endangered had Trump not issued this order, it highlights just how quickly viruses can spread in an era of ubiquitous transcontinental travel. It makes the Trump administration's hesitance to issue a nationwide stay-at-home order all the more mindboggling.
The United States has seen around 2,000 more deaths from the virus than China, despite China having nearly five times more people than the United States. Some insist that China is misreporting the number of cases and deaths, but there's reason to be skeptical of claims like that, since World Health Organization officials largely confirmed the numbers after an investigation on the ground.
What's more, suspending travel doesn't compensate for lackluster efforts to slow the virus's spread in the United States.
Trump congratulates himself for supposedly saving countless lives with the decision, but this new report only made people more skeptical.
Trump and his administration severely exaggerated the effectiveness of the Chinese travel ban.
Trump recently said that his administration will have done a good job if there are fewer than 200,000 deaths in the United States.