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Air China employees at LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal on Feb. 2 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Nearly 40,000 Americans and authorized travelers have come into the U.S. from China since President Trump imposed travel restrictions more than two months ago, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Trump has suggested that his action to ban foreigners from entering the U.S. if they were in China before early February has contributed to lower COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the U.S.

  • "I cut off China very early. And if I didn’t, we would have a chart that you wouldn’t believe," Trump said at a briefing on Friday, referring to White House models on where the virus has spread in the U.S. and how many deaths have occurred.

Details: 279 flights from China have arrived in the U.S. since Trump's travel restrictions were announced, "and screening procedures have been uneven," the Times notes.

The big picture: At least 430,000 people have flown to the U.S. from China since Dec. 31, when China first informed the World Health Organization about cases of novel coronavirus in Wuhan, the Times reports.

  • Most passengers arrived in January at airports in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Newark, Chicago and Detroit.
  • "Thousands of them flew directly from Wuhan," the original epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, per the NYT.

Go deeper... Timeline: The early days of China's coronavirus outbreak and cover-up

Go deeper

Updated 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump’s friends worry legal pick for N.Y. case lacks experience

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Close associates and advisers to Donald Trump tell Axios they're concerned by his decision to use a relatively inexperienced New Jersey attorney, Alina Habba, in his high-stakes legal fight against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Why it matters: A former president typically has access to the country's most prestigious experts, including lawyers. Trump has turned to the former general counsel for a parking garage company, who works from a small law office near his Bedminster, N.J., country club.

U.S. charges 4 Belarus officials with air piracy in journalist's arrest

A Boeing 737-8AS Ryanair passenger planefrom Athens, Greece, that was diverted to Minsk, Belarus, in May. Photo: Petras Malukas/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Thursday charged four Belarusian government officials with conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy as part of an operation to arrest a dissident Belarusian journalist.

Why it matters: Prosecutors say the officials fabricated a bomb threat aboard a Ryanair flight carrying the journalist Raman Pratasevich last May, forcing it to land in Minsk, Belarus instead.

28 mins ago - World

What Putin's Ukraine options look like

Putin confers with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty

The Biden administration is framing Russian escalation in Ukraine as almost a foregone conclusion, but the Russians are still at the table and Vladimir Putin may be seeking concessions from the West rather than a military confrontation with Kyiv.

Driving the news: Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who will meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov tomorrow in Geneva, contended in a speech Thursday from Berlin that Putin's intentions are clear: "He's laying the groundwork for an invasion because he doesn’t believe Ukraine is a sovereign nation."