The director of the Centers for Disease Control said Monday that he did recommend in February some states expand mitigation efforts to combat the coronavirus spread, but lockdowns didn’t begin until March.
Robert Redfield suggested on NBC’s Today that some recommendations by the CDC and National Institute of Health were ignored earlier on in the coronavirus outbreak and not implemented until March.
‘As February 28 – as we got into March – we recognized the different areas that mitigation was now important,’ Redfield told Today show host Savannah Guthrie. ‘CDC sent recommendations to Washington, to California, to New York and to Florida recommending that they expand mitigation in those areas.’
Although reports indicate that Redfield and NIH’s top immunologist Anthony Fauci recommended the White House implement social distancing guidelines in late February, such action was not taken until at least three weeks later in mid-March.
But Redfield excused the delay, claiming that the severity of the pandemic did not fully go into effect in the U.S. until that time.
‘If you look back, in January and February, the cases we had in this country were all related to China travel,’ he said Monday morning. ‘It wasn’t until February 28 when we saw our first community transmission where we said, ‘wait a minute, where is this coming from?’
‘So I think it’s important when we get back, and when we get through this, we can look back at the timeline,’ he continued.
The 68-year-old CDC director said he recommended in February that the federal government begin to ‘institute broader mitigation’ efforts.
Some reports indicate that the intelligence community informed the White House of the COVID-19 threat as early as November.
Redfield’s comments come as Fauci, a top infectious disease expert who serves on the coronavirus task force, admitted Sunday that more lives could have been saved if a lockdown were issued sooner.
The 79-year-old immunologist told CNN Sunday morning that more could have been done that would have potentially slowed the spread and lessened the ramifications of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
‘Obviously you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier you could’ve saved lives, obviously,’ Fauci told CNN’s State of the Union.
‘No-one is going to deny that,’ he continued, but added ‘there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then’.
This sparked Trump to repost a tweet that utilized the hashtag ‘fireFauci.’
‘Fauci is now saying that had Trump listened to the medical experts earlier he could’ve saved more lives. Fauci was telling people on February 29th that there was nothing to worry about and it posed no threat to the US public at large. Time to #FireFauci…’ the tweet from Republican DeAnna Lorraine read.
Trump reposted the tweet to his page on Sunday with the comment: ‘Sorry Fake News, it’s all on tape. I banned China long before people spoke up. Thank you @OANN’
The president’s allies have also taken to slamming Fauci over his Sunday comments.
Trump’s 2016 campaign senior communications adviser Jason Miller said Fauci should ‘be more careful’ during interviews, quoting the CNN headline: ‘Dr. Anthony Fauci admits earlier Covid-19 mitigation efforts would have saved more American lives.’
‘Dr. Fauci needs to be more careful choosing his words on #Coronavirus, & if he’s going to be critical, make clear what he personally could’ve done better,’ Miller tweeted.
He suggested the Fauci take more responsibility for what he could have done better to mitigate the coronavirus threat early on.
Although lockdowns and social distancing guidelines were not implemented by the White House until mid-March, several governors and local governments began taking matters into their own hands to mitigate the spread.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee was the first to do so on March 11, after becoming the first state with deaths from coronavirus.
He started by banning all social gatherings over 250 people.
Two days later, Trump declared a national emergency.
On March 16, the San Francisco Bay area, which includes six counties, issued the first real lockdown where all residents were ordered to shelter-in-place and only venture outside of their homes for essential reasons.
These were limited to reasons like shopping for food or going to the doctor.
While criticism emerged over the timing of national and state-wide lockdowns, Trump has often boasted his decision to ban travel from China early on in the outbreak.
The White House announced a 15 days to slow the spread plan in mid-March where the Trump administration implemented social distancing guidelines.
This included staying home except for necessary reasons – like grocery shopping or going to the doctor – maintaining a 6-foot distance from people in public and limiting gatherings to 10 people or less.
At the end of March, when the 15 days were up, Trump ended up expanding the guidelines for another 30 days.
The new end date for the guidelines is April 30, and the president says he plans to have the country back open and operating by May 1 – a self-imposed deadline many experts claim is optimistic and ‘too soon’ to implement.
On Sunday Trump also slammed The New York Times for a piece published Saturday that claims he repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and had been warned about it multiple times by top White House officials.
‘The @nytimes story is a Fake, just like the ‘paper’ itself. I was criticized for moving too fast when I issued the China Ban, long before most others wanted to do so,’ Trump tweeted.
The president added: ”@SecAzar told me nothing until later, and Peter Navarro memo was same as Ban (see his statements). Fake News!’ the president added.
Trump claimed that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar only warned him about the threat of coronavirus after he had imposed the China ban at the end of January.
However, it has been reported that Azar briefed him on January 18 while the President was at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida – but Trump kept interrupting because he was more interested in vaping measures.
Trump imposed the China ban after senior White House economic aide Peter Navarro issued a memo in January accurately outlining how bad the pandemic would be.
The president failed to mention a second Navarro memo issued in February that painted an even worse picture. Trump has been accused of not taking that seriously.
There are several reports that intelligence officials told the White House that there was a virus threat coming from China as early as November, indicating that the president knew about coronavirus sooner than he let on.
‘You know, Jake, as I have said many times, we look at it from a pure health standpoint,’ Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday morning. ‘We make a recommendation. Often, the recommendation is taken. Sometimes, it’s not.’
‘But it is what it is,’ he continued. ‘We are where we are right now.’
So far, more than 22,000 people died in the U.S. after contracting coronavirus and there are more than 561,000 cases as of Monday morning.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Katelyn Caralle