We’re starting to find out what they knew and when they knew it. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii calls the Trump administration out:
THEY ALL KNEW AND THEY DIDN’T TELL YOU. https://t.co/Y2z4jXklTa
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) April 7, 2020
Axios obtained memos from the economic adviser who sounded the warning, but there were probably similar warnings from other sectors that we haven’t seen yet. Via Axios:
In late January, President Trump’s economic adviser Peter Navarro warned his White House colleagues the novel coronavirus could take more than half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, according to memos obtained by Axios…
Navarro’s grim estimates are set out in two memos — one dated Jan. 29 and addressed to the National Security Council, the other dated Feb. 23 and addressed to the president. The NSC circulated both memos around the White House and multiple agencies…
The Jan 29 memo set out two stark choices “Aggressive Containment versus No Containment.”
Navarro compared cost estimates for the choices and wrote that the Council of Economic Advisers’ estimates for stopping travel from China to the U.S. would be $2.9 billion per month. If the virus turned out to be a pandemic, that travel ban could extend 12 months and cost the U.S. $34.6 billion.
Doing nothing (the “No Containment” option) could range from “zero economic costs” to $5.7 trillion depending on the lethality of the virus.
On the high end, he estimated a scenario in which the coronavirus could kill 543,000 Americans.
The Feb. 23 memo…was titled as a memorandum to the president via the offices of the national security adviser, chief of staff and COVID-19 task force, and the subject line described as a request for supplemental appropriation.
It began: “There is an increasing probability of a full-blown COVID-19 pandemic that could infect as many as 100 million Americans, with a loss of life of as many as 1-2 million souls.”
He called for an “immediate supplemental appropriation of at least $3 billion” to support efforts at prevention, treatment, inoculation, and diagnostics.
He described expected needs for “Personal Protective Equipment” for health care workers and secondary workers in facilities such as elder care and skilled nursing. He estimates that over a four-to-six month period, “We can expect to need at least a billion face masks, 200,000 Tyvek suits, and 11,000 ventilator circuits, and 25,000 PAPRs (powered air-purifying respirators.)”
Trump sat on his ass for weeks after that memo was circulated, tweeting inanities like this:
“Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!”
The administration didn’t get around to ordering ventilators and masks until mid-March.
Since the Trump administration’s natural state is chaos punctuated by palace coups and the president is a lazy-ass retiree who watches TV all day, it’s possible Trump himself was in the dark about what was coming. It’s also possible he knew and was moving behind the scenes to secure a personal advantage.
Regardless, it’s clear Trump was derelict in his duty to protect Americans. We’re going to need a bigger select committee.