Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned CNN’s Jim Acosta for taking him out of context while responding to his question at the White House press briefing on Tuesday.
Acosta asked the federal doctors if the United States could have prevented more deaths by acting to mitigate the virus sooner with social distancing guidelines.
“If there was no virus in the background, there was nothing to mitigate. If there was a virus there that we didn’t know about, then the answer to your question is probably yes,” he said.
Fauci added, “The only trouble with that is that whenever you come out and say something like that, it always becomes almost a soundbite that gets taken out of context.”
Both Birx and Fauci said it was unclear precisely when the virus was infecting people in the United States, even though cases were not apparent.
“In a perfect world, it would have been nice to know what was going on there, and we didn’t,” he said. “But I believe, Jim, that we acted very, very early in that.”
President Donald Trump added that he acted early to stop travel from China at the end of January to help prevent the virus from spreading.
“We were very early, and I also think we were very smart,” he said.