When President Donald Trump announced travel restrictions on China to prevent travelers from infecting Americans with the coronavirus, former Vice President Joe Biden blasted the decision as "hysterical xenophobia" at a campaign rally.
But now one of the country's leading experts on the illness, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says the president's travel restriction likely prevented a humanitarian crisis in the United States on the scale of the one that Italy is facing.
Shutting off travel from China might produce better results for U.S.
During an interview on MSNBC, anchor Lester Holt asked the world-renowned immunologist if there were demographic differences between the United States and Italy, which is now considered the hardest hit nation by the pandemic, which may result in different outcomes for the two countries.
Without hesitating, Fauci credited President Trump's Jan. 31 executive order suspending travel from China, where the virus originated, with preventing an Italian-level crisis in America.
"One of the things we did right was very early cut off travel from China to the United States," he said, while noting that "outside of China, where it originated, the countries in the world who have it are through travel."
Fauci also said that those who became infected with the virus early on got it "from China or indirectly from someone who went some place then came to that particular country. "
This is not the first time that Fauci has praised Trump's travel ban. During a March 12 press briefing, he told reporters "it was the right public health call." During a congressional briefing last week, the National Institutes of Health expert also lauded the president's decision to cut off travel from Europe.
"It was pretty compelling that we needed to turn off the source from that region," he said.
Biden opposed the travel bans
While scientists agree that President Trump's travels restrictions have helped the United States combat the coronavirus, Biden has repeatedly opposed the measures.
After Trump announced his European travel ban, the former vice president tweeted: "A wall will not stop the coronavirus. Banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop it."
Biden's remarks were similar to the comments he made at a campaign rally after Trump announced the original restrictions on travel from China.
"This is no time for Donald Trump's record of hysteria and xenophobia, hysterical xenophobia, to uh, and fearmongering," he said at the time.