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

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