NSC’s Pandemic Handbook Listed Out Step-By-Step Instructions For The White House To Follow. It Was Ignored.
A 69-page National Security Council playbook on fighting pandemics laid out what to do on most fronts when trying to curb the spread of the disease. The playbook was designed “so there wasn’t piecemeal thinking when trying to fight the next public health battle,” said one former official who contributed to the playbook. Trump administration officials said the advice, which was curated in 2016, was dated. Meanwhile, ProPublica takes a deeper look at the Defense Production Act and what powers it gives the president.
Trump Team Failed To Follow NSC’s Pandemic Playbook
The Trump administration, state officials and even individual hospital workers are now racing against each other to get the necessary masks, gloves and other safety equipment to fight coronavirus — a scramble that hospitals and doctors say has come too late and left them at risk. But according to a previously unrevealed White House playbook, the government should’ve begun a federal-wide effort to procure that personal protective equipment at least two months ago. “Is there sufficient personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are providing medical care?” the playbook instructs its readers, as one early decision that officials should address when facing a potential pandemic. “If YES: What are the triggers to signal exhaustion of supplies? Are additional supplies available? If NO: Should the Strategic National Stockpile release PPE to states?” (Diamond and Toosi, 3/25)
The Defense Production Act Gives The President Power — But Not Much Funding
President Donald Trump is under fire for his reluctance to use the Defense Production Act, a 70-year-old law that empowers the president to order private industry to produce crucial equipment and supplies in an emergency. But the law may not be the silver bullet its proponents are hoping for to combat the COVID-19 pandemic: It comes with a war chest of only $228 million, with another $1 billion to come assuming the latest rescue legislation passes. (Arnsdorf, 3/25)
In other news on the administration —
Where's The CDC Gone, As The Leader Of Coronavirus Policy And Communication?
At a time when the nation is desperate for authoritative information about the coronavirus pandemic, the country's foremost agency for fighting infectious disease outbreaks has gone conspicuously silent. "I want to assure Americans that we have a team of public health experts," President Trump said at Tuesday evening's coronavirus task force briefing — a bit of reassurance that probably would not have been necessary if that briefing had included anyone from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Greenfieldboyce, 3/25)
Exclusive: U.S. Slashed CDC Staff Inside China Prior To Coronavirus Outbreak
The Trump administration cut staff by more than two-thirds at a key U.S. public health agency operating inside China, as part of a larger rollback of U.S.-funded health and science experts on the ground there leading up to the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters has learned. (Taylor, 3/25)