From the Washington Post:
U.S. intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel coronavirus in more than a dozen classified briefings prepared for President Trump in January and February, months during which he continued to play down the threat, according to current and former U.S. officials.
The repeated warnings were conveyed in issues of the President’s Daily Brief, a sensitive report that is produced before dawn each day and designed to call the president’s attention to the most significant global developments and security threats.
For weeks, the PDB — as the report is known — traced the virus’s spread around the globe, made clear that China was suppressing information about the contagion’s transmissibility and lethal toll, and raised the prospect of dire political and economic consequences.
But the alarms appear to have failed to register with the president, who routinely skips reading the PDB and has at times shown little patience for even the oral summary he takes two or three times per week, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified material.
Back in December when the impeachment of Trump was ramping up, one of my right-wing friends — yes, I have them — made the remark that no one died because of the Ukraine scandal as opposed to the four dead in Benghazi, which was truly impeachable: “Lock her up!” In retrospect, the impeachment of Trump over Ukraine seems almost inconsequential had we known what was lying in wait.
Sometime this week, if it hasn’t already happened, the number of people who have died from Covid-19 will surpass the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam war: over 58,000. That war changed America and the way we perceive so many things, from military service to civil rights; from our treatment of veterans to popular music; from trust in our government to the war on drugs. No one can imagine what our country, our world, our families, our art, our daily life, will be like after this is over.
No one can say for certainty that this virus would not have spread. But it appears to be stunningly obvious that when the warning signs were there, shrieking like a siren and jumping off the pages of the intelligence briefing, they were willfully ignored, denigrated when brought up, dismissed for political gain, and criminally neglected by the one person who could have made a difference in the response and the impact on the nation and the world.