AP FACT CHECK: Trump and the virus-era China ban that isn’t

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump’s “ban” on travel from China is his go-to point when defending his response to the coronavirus pandemic. The problem with his core argument starts with the fact that he did not ban travel from China. He imposed porous restrictions.
Over the past week, Trump cited his China action repeatedly and as part of a scattered indictment of Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden.
Trump thoroughly misrepresented Biden’s position on immigration and more, while an economic adviser with no public health credentials tried to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, with a scientific argument.
It was a difficult week for discerning the reality of things.
In review:
TRUMP: “We would’ve had thousands of people additionally die if we let people come in from heavily infected China. But we stopped it. We did a travel ban in January. … By closing up, we saved millions, potentially millions of lives.” – Rose Garden remarks Tuesday.
TRUMP: He didn’t ban travel from China. He restricted it. Dozens of countries took similar steps to control travel from hot spots before or around the same time the U.S. did.
The U.S. restrictions that took effect Feb. 2 continued to allow travel to the U.S. from China’s Hong Kong and Macao territories over the past five months. The Associated Press reported
that more than 8,000 Chinese and foreign nationals based in those territories entered the U.S. in the first three months after the travel restrictions were imposed.
Additionally, more than 27,000 Americans returned from mainland China in the first month after the restrictions took effect. U.S. officials lost track of more than 1,600 of them who were supposed to be monitored for virus exposure.
Few doubt that the heavy death toll from COVID-19 would be even heavier if world travel had not been constricted globally. But Trump has no scientific basis to claim that his action alone saved “millions” or even “hundreds of thousands” of lives, as he has put it.
TRUMP, on what happened after he restricted travel from China: “Nancy Pelosi was dancing on the streets of Chinatown in San Francisco a month later, and even later than that, and others, too.” – Rose Garden.
THE FACTS: No she wasn’t. This is Trump’s frequent and fanciful account of the House speaker’s visit to San Francisco’s Chinatown on Feb. 24. That day, she visited shops and strolled the streets to counter the hostility some people in the district were encountering over a virus that emanated from China.
On that day, Pelosi said the public should be vigilant about the virus but the city took precautions and “we should come to Chinatown.” Local TV news tracked her visit;. She wasn’t seen dancing and did not call for a “street fair,” as Trump at times has put it. Community spread of the coronavirus had not yet been reported.
As FactCheck.org pointed out, the same day Pelosi went to Chinatown, Trump tweeted: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health (Organization) have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” The CDC is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Two days later, Trump asserted that only 15 people in the U.S. were infected and that number would go down “close to zero.” Instead the numbers exploded. More than 3.6 million Americans have had COVID-19.
Trump has accused Pelosi of being “responsible for many deaths” because of the Chinatown visit. He has denied responsibility for any of the deaths sweeping the country as he has persistently minimized the threat, pushed for reopening and refused to take mask-wearing seriously.
TRUMP: “He opposed my very strict travel ban on Chinese nationals to stop the spread of the China virus. He was totally against it. ‘Xenophobic,’ he called me. ‘Xenophobic.’ A month later, he admitted I was right.” – Rose Garden.
THE FACTS: No, Biden did not come out against the travel restrictions on China. He said little about them at the time. In April, …
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