Story at a glance
- President Trump blocked travel from China and Europe early on in the coronavirus crisis and has consistently touted the move as being effective in saving lives.
- Gates told Fox News Sunday the bans probably accelerated the spread of the virus as travelers abroad rushed back to the U.S. and proper testing and quarantine measures were not put in place.
- The billionaire has been a prominent critic of the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic.
Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said President Trump’s travel bans early on in the coronavirus pandemic may have made the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. worse.
Trump issued an executive order on Jan. 31 blocking entry to the U.S. for anyone who had been to China in the last 14 days as the country was the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak at the time. In March, Trump announced a ban on travel from Europe and countries experiencing significant outbreaks.
The president has often touted his decision to restrict travel from China as one of the boldest and most effective measures his administration took to try and contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
But during a Fox News Sunday interview with Chris Wallace, Gates pushed back against that claim and argued the way the ban was conducted may have exacerbated the COVID-19 situation in the U.S. as travelers abroad rushed back to the U.S. and proper testing and quarantine measures were not put in place.
“We created this rush, and we didn’t have the ability to test or quarantine those people. And so that seeded the disease here. The ban probably accelerated that, the way it was executed,” Gates told Wallace in the interview that is set to air Sunday.
Wallace then pressed Gates, asking him if the bans made the situation worse not better.
“March saw this incredible explosion — the West Coast coming from China and then the East Coast coming out of Europe, and so, even though we’d seen China and we’d seen Europe, that testing capacity and clear message of how to behave wasn’t there,” Gates responded.
Gates, who warned of the need to prepare for pandemics in 2015, has on several occasions criticized the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak. In an interview this week with Stat News, Gates said the U.S. mismanaged the crisis every step of the way, saying it’s “shocking” and “unbelievable” that the nation is among the worst in the world in terms of its handling of the outbreak. He’s also consistently said the U.S. has failed to carry out adequate testing.
The U.S. currently leads the world in the number of infections and deaths, with more than 6.7 million cases and more than 198,000 deaths.
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