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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

Dead malls get new life

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Malls are becoming ghosts of retail past. But the left-behind real estate is being reimagined for a post-pandemic world.

Why it matters: As many as 17% of malls in the U.S. "may no longer be viable as shopping centers and need to be redeveloped into other uses," per Barclays.

White House now says Biden will move to increase refugee cap by May 15

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The White House on Friday afternoon said President Biden plans to lift the Trump-era refugee cap by May 15.

Driving the news: The announcement follows stinging criticism from several Democrats and rights groups, who said Biden was walking back on his pledge to raise the limit. Earlier Friday, Biden signed a directive to speed up the processing of refugees, but kept the Trump administration's historically low cap of 15,000 refugees for this year.