Report: Ignored Warnings, Infighting in Virus Response

Two-month head start before cases hit US was wasted
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2020 2:20 PM CDT
Ignored Warnings, Infighting Led to Virus Response Failures
President Trump walks past Dr. Anthony Fauci, right, as he and Vice President Mike Pence arrive for a coronavirus task force briefing Saturday at the White House.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The US entered this health crisis with greater expertise and resources than scores of nations that are doing a better job of protecting lives from COVID-19. Much like the period before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, warnings were given to the president but ignored, the Washington Post reports. The result is a casualty list longer than any other nation's. The Trump administration learned of the coronavirus outbreak on Jan. 3. Days later, American spy agencies were warning of the danger, including it in the president's daily intelligence brief. But President Trump didn't treat the virus as the serious threat it was for 70 days. That wasted two-month period, a Post investigation found, was critical in bringing about the catastrophe the country faces now.

Intelligence officials have worried from the beginning about Trump's lack of interest in the daily intelligence briefings, and the government failures in this case were widespread. Infighting between the White House and public health agencies, and within the coronavirus task force, delayed the response. And the stockpile of emergency supplies was inadequate to start with. The administration is taking the pandemic more seriously now, but it's likely that a quicker, more forceful response would have saved lives. Now, the surgeon general said Sunday, per USA Today, the nation is beginning a week that will be "the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans' lives." The role of the US as an effective global leader in crisis could change: "This has been a real blow to the sense that America was competent," an intelligence expert said. (Read the full investigation here.)

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