President Donald Trump commented on Thursday over the spread of coronavirus in the United States over the past few weeks, lamenting to himself and to reporters that no one could have been ready for it.
A new report, however, shows that the U.S. federal government actually tried to ready itself for just such an event.
“I would view [the coronavirus crisis] as something that just surprised the whole world…Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion,” Trump said earlier this week.
"I’ve reviewed all of his public statements and actions on coronavirus over the last two months, and they show a president who put almost no priority on public health," @DLeonhardt writes https://t.co/bDjNgjRfkx
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) March 16, 2020
Those comments fly in the face of common sense: the world was well aware of the crisis when China was dealing with most of the fallout from it. Additionally, in the weeks from the first identified case in the U.S. (which occurred in mid-January) up until this past week, Trump spent much of the time flouting how prepared the country was due to his leadership, and called it a “hoax” when others criticized how marginally he was taking the matter.
Now, details about a government exercise demonstrate that the administration had tried to prepare for the eventuality of such an outbreak, failing miserably in a simulation called “Crimson Contagion” last year.
The simulated exercise involved 12 federal agencies, a number of states, and some hospitals across the country taking part in it. The scenario? A pandemic flu that began in China and spread across the world by international tourists.
If that doesn’t sound familiar enough for you, consider what conclusions were drawn from the simulation. From the New York Times:
Federal agencies jockeyed over who was in charge. State officials and hospitals struggled to figure out what kind of equipment was stockpiled or available. Cities and states went their own ways on school closings.
“Crimson Contagion” was a pandemic response simulation ran Jan.-Aug. ‘19.
Results proved Trump administration was “underfunded, underprepared & uncoordinated” to deal with a life-or-death pandemic.
So, what did they do to ensure our safety?
— Bama Blue🆘 (@bamableu) March 20, 2020
According to the simulation, at least 110 million Americans ended up getting infected with the fictional disease.
Little-to-no response came about from the simulation. In fact, the president himself sought to cut the CDC’s budget by hundreds of millions of dollars, just weeks before coronavirus became a big deal in the U.S.
Chris Walker is a freelance journalist based in Madison, Wisconsin, who focuses on news, politics, and analysis of world events. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, since 2005 Chris has reported on workers’ rights protests in Wisconsin, opined on four separate presidential elections and written on a number of other political subjects for a variety of national online publications.