President Donald Trump received numerous reports and classified warnings from U.S. intelligence agencies in January and February about the immense danger of a coronavirus outbreak, while his administration failed to take action early on to slow the spread of the pandemic, reports the Washington Post.
In January, Trump downplayed the coronavirus publicly and to the press, while privately he received updates on the global threat of a pandemic near daily. Lawmakers in Congress reportedly also received warnings about coronavirus and its rapid spread in China.
The warnings from U.S. intelligence agencies did not suggest actions for the administration to take to prevent an outbreak in the U.S., but they did describe an aggressive pandemic that would require immediate action in order to contain it.
The reports, along with some of Trump’s advisors, warned that China had not been displaying their handling of the outbreak accurately, though Trump at the same time praised China for its response.
The death toll from coronavirus in the U.S. is 249 while the number of cases nears 20,000. At the same time, governors across the U.S. say they are facing a shortage of testing kits, respirators and protective gear for health care workers, despite Trump’s recent touting of providing aid to states to help manage the outbreak.
“If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now,” Trump said at his Coronavirus Task Force press briefing on Monday. “We will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus and we’re going to have a big celebration all together.”
But hours earlier, a group of governors was told by Trump— via conference call—to not wait for any help from the federal government. “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves.”