President Trump regularly pats himself on the back for announcing travel restrictions on China as the novel coronavirus emerged in January. Before the caseload in the United States exploded, Trump attributed what he considered a small number of cases to that decision. Even as deaths from covid-19 in the United States started to soar, he said he saved lives by imposing what he calls a “ban” on China.“We’re the ones that gave the great response, and we’re the ones that kept China out of here,” Trump said on March 25. “And if I didn’t do it, you’d have thousands and thousands of people died — who would’ve died — that are now living and happy.”The World Health Organization has cautioned against such travel restrictions, saying they are ineffective against a virus and in the long run counterproductive. Trump, according to news reports, was initially skeptical and worried about provoking China after signing a major trade deal. But his national security and public health experts convinced him that the move would buy time to put in place effective prevention and testing measures. (The government then bungled the testing rollout, but that’s another story.)In Trump’s telling, he took bold action, ahead of

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