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White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow defended his claim on Feb. 25 that the U.S. had "contained" the coronavirus "pretty close to airtight," arguing on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that his comments were "based on the actual facts" at the time.

Why it matters: Kudlow is among the White House officials who have faced criticism for downplaying the looming impact of the virus, which has now infected more than 1 million Americans and killed over 66,000.

At the time of Kudlow's comments, the country had 15 known coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

  • That same day, however, Nancy Messonnier, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters a coronavirus outbreak in the country was inevitable.
  • “It’s not a question of if but rather a question of when and how many people in this country will have severe illness," she said, according to Politico.

What he's saying:

"My quote then was based on the actual facts, which at the time, there were only 40 or 50 cases, and it was contained — particularly after President Trump boldly put up travel restrictions with China. ... There was hardly any cases. Yes, some doctors were more fearful. Other doctors had many different things to say. ... Then, as the virus spread exponentially in ways that virtually no one could have predicted, of course we changed our mind.
Going forward, the president and the vice president have taken strong measures ... to deal with this unexpected outbreak. And I think the sort of ankle-biting that's going on in Washington is just incorrect. You have to deal with the information at hand. When the information changes, we changed our strategy. So did everyone else around the world."
— Larry Kudlow

Go deeper

State coronavirus testing plans fall short of demand

Data: Department of Health and Human Services via Harvard Global Health Institute; Note: New York City's plan is included in New York state; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. plans to test around 600,000 people for the coronavirus every day this month, according to plans that states submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Yes, but: That's likely a drop in testing, compared to July, and it's not enough to meet national demand. By December, states said they plan to ramp up to around a collective 850,000 people tested a day — which also likely will not be enough.

Aug 10, 2020 - Health

Europe's CDC recommends new virus restrictions amid "true resurgence in cases"

Revellers enjoy an informal Bal des Pompiers next to the fire station at Point Éphémère on July 13, 2020 in Paris. Photo: Kiran Ridley/Getty Images

The European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned on Monday that the continent is seeing a "true resurgence" in coronavirus cases and recommended that affected countries consider reimposing certain restrictions.

Why it matters: Many European countries, including former global hotspots Italy and Spain, were able to successfully curb the spread of COVID-19 over the summer through stringent lockdown restrictions and a phased reopening. The ECDC warned that the "recent increase" in infections is a result of countries relaxing their social distancing and other mitigation measures.

Aug 10, 2020 - Health

At least 48 local public health leaders have quit or been fired during pandemic

Former California public health director Dr. Sonia Angell on Feb. 27 in Sacramento, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At least 48 local and state-level public health leaders have retired, resigned or been fired across 23 states since April, according to a review by the AP and Kaiser Health News.

Driving the news: California public health director Dr. Sonia Angell resigned on Sunday without explanation, a few days after the state fixed a delay in reporting coronavirus test results that had affected reopenings for schools and businesses, AP reports.