Government Pandemic Simulations Over Past Year Highlighted U.S. Vulnerabilities, But Little Was Done To Correct Flaws
The simulations revealed shortcomings--such as a lack of supplies and staff for hospitals--that the government is now trying to address during the coronavirus outbreak. In other news, Stat provides a who's who list of those in the Trump administration handling the crisis.
The New York Times:
Before Virus Outbreak, A Cascade Of Warnings Went Unheeded
The outbreak of the respiratory virus began in China and was quickly spread around the world by air travelers, who ran high fevers. In the United States, it was first detected in Chicago, and 47 days later, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. By then it was too late: 110 million Americans were expected to become ill, leading to 7.7 million hospitalized and 586,000 dead. That scenario, code-named “Crimson Contagion” and imagining an influenza pandemic, was simulated by the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services in a series of exercises that ran from last January to August. The simulation’s sobering results — contained in a draft report dated October 2019 that has not previously been reported — drove home just how underfunded, underprepared and uncoordinated the federal government would be for a life-or-death battle with a virus for which no treatment existed. (Sanger, Lipton, Sullivan and Crowley, 3/19)
The Washington Post Fact Checker:
Was The White House Office For Global Pandemics Eliminated?
“The Obama-Biden Administration set up the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense to prepare for future pandemics like covid-19. Donald Trump eliminated it — and now we’re paying the price.” — Former vice president Joe Biden, in a tweet, March 19, 2019. Several readers have written The Fact Checker, saying they were confused by dueling opinion articles that appeared in The Washington Post concerning the National Security Council office highlighted in Biden’s tweet. (Kessler and Kelly, 2/20)
Who’s Who, Among The Trump Administration’s Coronavirus Response Team
Vice President Mike Pence is in charge of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus. But so is Deborah Birx, the physician and diplomat who the Trump administration brought on as its response “coordinator.” Then there’s health secretary Alex Azar, the chair of the Trump administration’s Coronavirus Task Force. And of course, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to whom they all seem to defer. (Facher, 3/20)
The Associated Press:
Coronavirus Task Force Offers An Even Keel To A Zigzag Trump
They meet in the windowless Situation Room, every day but Sunday, drawing an overflow crowd. Fueled by coffee, donuts and data, members of the White House coronavirus task force fill the secure basement conference room to parse new disease patterns as they weigh next steps in the fight against a virus that has dramatically altered American lives. (Colvin and Miller, 3/20)
Trump’s New Public Health 'Star'
After being sidelined for much of the Trump administration, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has suddenly emerged as a key player in its messaging about the coronavirus outbreak, often echoing the president’s arguments and winning his favor. Now a regular on Fox News and other programs, Adams routinely flanks President Donald Trump at news briefings and has amplified the White House’s line as it shifted from reassuring to more severe. (Diamond, 3/20)
The Associated Press:
Surgeon General's TV Praise Of Trump Earns His 'Star' Label
The U.S. surgeon general caught the eye of Donald Trump in a tried-and-true way: praising the 45th president on television. (Madhani and Davies, 3/19)
The Washington Post:
CDC Is Sidelined By White House During Coronavirus Pandemic
As the United States enters a critical phase in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s leading public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appears to be on the sidelines, with its messages increasingly disrupted or overtaken by the White House. Neither CDC Director Robert Redfield nor Anne Schuchat — the principal deputy director who has played key roles in the agency’s emergency responses stretching back two decades, including the 2009 influenza pandemic — have appeared on the podium during White House briefings by the coronavirus task force for more than a week. (Sun, 3/19)
Where Has FEMA Been During Coronavirus Response?
President Donald Trump, facing a growing sense of fear amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, last week activated the nation’s leading disaster-relief authority, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. During a White House briefing on Wednesday, he said that FEMA had been mobilized and is working at its highest levels. FEMA officials, since the weekend, have refused to provide a single concrete example of what the agency is doing or has done – beyond planning – to begin to help the nation’s public health system deal with the viral emergency. (Folmer and Margolin, 3/19)
Meanwhile, a photographer caught President Donald Trump's notes on what to label the virus —
The Washington Post:
Trump Takes Aim At China Over Coronavirus As Known U.S. Infections Double
President Trump took direct aim at China on Thursday for allowing the spread of the coronavirus that has sickened Americans, shut down much of daily life and pushed the U.S. economy toward recession, while deflecting criticism that his administration was caught flat-footed by the outbreak. The president dug in on his use of the term “Chinese virus” to describe the novel coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan, China, late last year and did not rule out directing economic retaliation toward Beijing. (Gearan, 3/19)
The Washington Post:
Donald Trump’s Presidency As Told Through A Black Marker
In the unorthodox presidency of Donald J. Trump, one of the more unorthodox mainstays has been his reliance upon notes he has apparently jotted down for himself with a Sharpie. The boldface writings have regularly been captured by photographers and have come to define several key moments in his tenure. (3/19)