On January 31, the president announced a ban on entry to foreign travelers who had been in China in the previous two weeks, while allowing Americans and permanent residents to continue to travel back and forth between the two countries. The measure was not as stringent as Cotton’s call for a ban on all commercial flights, but Cotton points out that the president “did not have many advisers encouraging him to shut down travel.”
Advisers who were supportive tended to be national-security aides, he adds, while “most of his economic and public-health advisers were ambivalent at best about the travel ban.”
Of course, while the travel restriction may have bought the United States time, that time was largely squandered by the catastrophic failure of the CDC and FDA to ramp up testing for the coronavirus in the United States.
“The CDC should not have acted like know-it-all bureaucrats who had the only medical and scientific expertise to develop tests. We have lots and lots of very capable labs all around the country,” Cotton says. “The FDA should not put all of its eggs in the CDC basket. . . . They were slow to use their emergency-use authorization.”