Health official: US should have banned travel from Europe earlier to slow spread of coronavirus

Greg Nash

A top health official said Friday that the U.S. was too slow in banning travel from Europe and that the delay in closing the nation’s borders to travel from the continent helped accelerate the coronavirus’s spread.

“The extensive travel from Europe, once Europe was having outbreaks, really accelerated our importations and the rapid spread,” Anne Schuchat, the No. 2 official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told The Associated Press. “I think the timing of our travel alerts should have been earlier.”

President Trump has repeatedly touted his Jan. 31 decision to halt travel into the country from China, where the coronavirus originated. However, nearly 2 million travelers from Italy and other European countries entered the U.S. in February, according to a CDC article published Friday.

Travel from Europe was not halted until March 11.

“We clearly didn’t recognize the full importations that were happening,” said Schuchat.

Schuchat also wrote in the CDC article that states were slow to cut down on large gatherings, noting events such as a scientific meeting in Boston, the Mardis Gras celebration in New Orleans and a funeral in Albany, Ga., that spread many cases.

“I think in retrospect, taking action earlier could have delayed further amplification (of the U.S. outbreak), or delayed the speed of it,” she told the AP of those events.

Tags Anne Schuchat Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump United States Public Health Service
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