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.