FLASHBACK: Let’s Take A Look At How The Press Covered Trump’s China Travel Ban

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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Media outlets bashed President Donald Trump back in January after he implemented a travel ban from China because of the novel coronavirus – a move that many other countries have now followed.

The Trump administration first made the announcement Jan. 31, 2020, announcing they would restrict foreign nationals recently in China from entering the U.S. They also announced that some Americans who recently traveled to the country would be put into quarantine for a time upon their arrival back to the U.S. The novel coronavirus first originated in Wuhan, China.

Trump’s announcement sparked severe backlash from media outlets who rushed to find experts willing to bash the decision, Lyndsey Fifield, social media manager for The Heritage Foundation, noted on Twitter. (RELATED: Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 200 As Outbreak Impacts Travelers Worldwide)

The New York Times wrote that the decision “sent shocks through the stock market and rattled industries that depend on the flow of goods and people between the world’s two largest economies” in its Jan. 31 article. The publication added that “some public health and policy experts” believed the restrictions would do nearly nothing to help contain the virus.

“At this point, sharply curtailing air travel to and from China is more of an emotional or political reaction, said Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota,” according to the NYT article.

Today, numerous countries have followed Trump’s directive by issuing their own respective travel restrictions on various parts of the world. The European Union ordered a month-long ban on nonessential travel to at least 26 countries in Europe, and Canada mutually agreed to close its borders with the U.S. Meanwhile, Italy and Spain are on a country-wide lockdown.

STAT News also echoed the anti-travel ban rhetoric, writing that “public health experts have warned that travel bans are not effective at stemming the spread of a virus and can make responding to an outbreak more challenging.” The publication put the blame on “conservative lawmakers and far-right supporters of the president.”

“The World Health Organization [WHO], which declared the outbreak a global health emergency this week, has recommended against any travel or trade restrictions in response to the outbreak. Member countries, however, do not have to comply with that guidance,” STAT reported.

STAT quoted Catherine Worsnop, “who studies international cooperation during global health emergencies at the University of Maryland,” to back up the idea that Trump’s China travel ban was bad news.

“From a public health perspective, there is limited effectiveness. And then there are a host of other reasons why they can actually be counterproductive,” according to Worsnop.

The Verge quoted WHO’s recommendation against travel restrictions as well. WHO, meanwhile, has been found echoing false reporting from China, where the outbreak began.

“They’re political theater, not good public health policy,” an article from Vox claimed. This article also appeared to originally name the virus “Wuhan coronavirus,” according to Fifield. Referring to the novel coronavirus as the “Wuhan Virus” has now been deemed racist by many reporters.

The Washington Post also bashed Trump’s travel ban using a Chinese ministry spokesman. The article includes a quote from the spokesman criticizing the travel ban and noting that it is against WHO’s recommendations.

Moldova, Montenegro, Japan, Maldives and Fiji are just a few of the numerous countries that now have travel bans on China in particular, as well as other areas.