This should not be paywalled as it is in the WaPo Coronavirus sections.
But just in case:
Our source of infections is overwhelmingly European. The shutdown of travel from there was not discussed in advance with DHS, Customs and Border, airlines, airports…anybody really.
These companies and agencies received scant notice, if any, and it set up so much chaos at the ports of entry, airline desks, etc. Screening was scant and next to useless. Planes did not know if they could take off, passengers rebelling, paperwork a mess, not nearly enough personnel, etc. In many cases, the airline personnel heard about the ban from the president’s speech. And that was at 9PM, about 2-3 hours after the flights TO Europe were already in the air.
All in all, the ban probably caused the pandemic to explode across the US because it was both too late and so badly handled. The thousands of Americans trying to get home were packed into airport terminals for hours at a time.
Mnuchin and Kudlow were adamantly against a ban weeks earlier because of economic ramifications. But a lot of folks in the administration were sending out alarms that were mostly ignored until the last minute.
The crux of the story, however, is that planning was absent until just about the time of the speech by Trump to restrict travel from Europe. The air corridor across the Atlantic is the busiest in the world.
What was the administration thinking?