Trade adviser warned White House in January of risks of a pandemic

“A top White House adviser starkly warned Trump administration officials in late January that the coronavirus crisis could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death,” The New York Times is reporting.

“The warning, written in a memo by Peter Navarro, President Trump’s trade adviser, is the highest-level alert known to have circulated inside the West Wing as the administration was taking its first substantive steps to confront a crisis that had already consumed China’s leaders and would go on to upend life in Europe and the United States.

“’The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on U.S. soil,’ Mr. Navarro’s memo said. ‘This lack of protection elevates the risk of the coronavirus evolving into a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.’

“Dated Jan. 29, it came during a period when Mr. Trump was playing down the risks to the United States, and he would later go on to say that no one could have predicted such a devastating outcome.

“Mr. Navarro said in the memo that the administration faced a choice about how aggressive to be in containing an outbreak, saying the human and economic costs would be relatively low if it turned out to be a problem along the lines of a seasonal flu.

“But he went on to emphasize that the “risk of a worst-case pandemic scenario should not be overlooked” given the information coming from China.

“In one worst-case scenario cited in the memo, more than a half-million Americans could die.

“A second memo that Mr. Navarro wrote, dated Feb. 23, warned of 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.”

“At that time, Mr. Trump was still downplaying the threat of the virus. The administration was considering asking Congress for more money to address the situation, and the second memo, which circulated around the West Wing and was obtained by The Times, urged an immediate supplemental spending appropriation from Congress of at least $3 billion. 

“Neither Mr. Navarro nor spokespeople for the White House responded to requests for comment.”

The rest of the article is here.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

One thought on “Trade adviser warned White House in January of risks of a pandemic”

  1. What is remarkable about this story is that no matter how much evidence that Trump was incompetent in the face of this disaster the True Believers will stand by him even as they walk to the guillotine.

    The True Believer simply believes, no matter the data, no matter the science, no matter the professional and expert opinion, no matter even the observational evidence in front of their own eyes, no matter what. The True Believer is not motivated by fact but by identity, group, association, belonging, authority and ultimately fear.

    I admire the skeptic, the doubter and the iconoclast.

    I have always been a Winston Churchill fan, not for his politics rather his leadership skills. At the height of the fall of France Churchill assembled a government of consisting of critics and opponents tempered with his own party members who often disagreed with him over the preceding decade. Strategy and policy was vigorously debated and direction determined not by the sycophants but by the breakers of shibboleth, and then executed in confidence by the one who took the advise, synthesized it and made a rational decision.

    The same leadership style was evident in Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Marcus Aurelius, Joshua Chamberlain, and scores of other leaders I admire.

    In this time the essential social, political, cultural, moral, and eventually mortal decision is will we follow an angry, authoritarian, self interested, control freak, or will we demand more of American leadership?

    The True Believer is at guillotine…he will not relent. Are you the True Believer?

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