Mitigation: What you do when you can no longer stop a contagious disease from spreading. It’s the next fallback position — you try to slow the spread down. Social distancing, shelter in place, no unnecessary travel, TESTING, things like that.
By late February, according to a CNN news clip, experts working for the federal government had worked out a plan to do just that:
An administration official told CNN that the United States government's top public health experts agreed in the third week of February on the need to begin moving away from a containment strategy and toward a mitigation strategy that would involve aggressive social distancing measures.
Trump at that time was in India (staging events for use in campaign ads) while this strategy was worked out. Officials planned to brief him on it on his return. They didn’t, because . . .
[The] meeting was scrapped after Trump returned to Washington infuriated by a plunging stock market and CDC official Dr. Nancy Messonier's warning about “severe” disruptions to daily life.
Dr. Messonier was only reporting the consensus among CDC and other health officials, but she forgot about “Dr.” Trump, the only person whose medical opinion matters.