Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that "no one is going to deny" that more lives could have been saved during the coronavirus crisis if the Trump administration had implemented social distancing guidelines prior to March.

Why it matters: The New York Times reported Saturday that the administration’s top public health experts, including Fauci, concluded on Feb. 21 that the U.S. would need to move toward aggressive social distancing even if it would disrupt the economy and millions of American lives.

  • The National Security Council office that tracks pandemics received intelligence reports in early January that predicted the virus would spread to the United States, per the Times.
  • It began raising options like keeping Americans home from work and shutting down cities the size of Chicago to stop the spread of the virus. The White House ultimately did not announce social distancing guidelines until March 16.

What they're saying: "As I've said many times, we look at it from a pure health standpoint," Fauci said. "We make a recommendation. Often the recommendation is taken. Sometimes it's not. But it is what it is. We are where we are right now."

  • "I mean, obviously you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. Obviously, no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those kinds of decisions is complicated."

The big picture: 530,006 Americans have contracted the virus, 20,608 have died from it and 32,110 have recovered as of Sunday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Go deeper: We can't just flip the switch on the coronavirus

Go deeper

Pelosi on state of coronavirus stimulus talks: "It's a chasm"

Democrats and the Trump administration remain "miles apart" on negotiations over a coronavirus stimulus deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday.

Driving the news, via Axios' Dion Rabouin: Congress' failure to renew enhanced unemployment measures for millions of Americans at the end of July is already affecting consumer spending patterns, holding down retail purchases and foot traffic, economists at Deutsche Bank say.

Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of noon ET: 20,391,697 — Total deaths: 744,211— Total recoveries: 12,625,076Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 5,161,612 — Total deaths: 164,690 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. Business: U.S. already feeling effects of ending unemployment benefits — U.S. producer prices rose last month by the most since October 2018.
  4. Public health: America is flying blind on its coronavirus response.
  5. Education: Gallup: America's confidence in public school system jumps to highest level since 2004.
  6. World: Lebanon reports coronavirus record, UN warns Beirut blast may drive cases higher
45 mins ago - World

U.S. threatens to veto UN peacekeeping in Lebanon over Hezbollah concerns

Peacekeepers with Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon. Photo: Jalaa Marey/AFP via Getty

The Trump administration is threatening to veto a resolution to extend the UN's long-standing peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon if its mandate isn't changed, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: The U.S. is the main funder of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has an annual budget of $250 million. The veto threat is a tactical move, and part of a broader effort to put pressure on Iran and its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah.