Trump denies seeing Navarro memos warning about toll of coronavirus
President Trump said at a press briefing Tuesday that he "didn't see" memos from his trade adviser Peter Navarro warning in January and February that the coronavirus crisis could kill more than half a million Americans and cost close to $6 trillion.
Why it matters: Trump insisted that despite not seeing the memos, he did "more or less" what Navarro suggested by banning non-U.S. citizens from traveling from China effective Feb. 2.
Between the lines: Axios health editor Sam Baker notes that Navarro's concern about the severity of the crisis while acknowledging the speculative nature of modeling viruses was largely correct.
- "These memos place a very big emphasis on banning travel specifically from China —which, of course, Trump did," Baker says. But by Jan. 29, there were confirmed cases in 15 countries, including the U.S.
- "This is not to say they're a bad idea, only that this is why public-health experts don't lean as heavily on travel restrictions. People come into the U.S. from a lot of places, and with two globalized countries, simply stopping people coming in from Wuhan was not bad, but it shouldn't be shocking that it was insufficient."