Who knows what this means, but it sounds good to me! https://t.co/rQVA4ER0PV— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 8, 2020
TRUMP: “Think what would’ve happened if we didn’t do anything. I had many friends, people w/ common sense who said, ‘why don’t we just ride it out? Don’t do anything, just ride it out & think of it as the flu'”— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 31, 2020
Trump is preparing to take credit for any result under 2m deaths pic.twitter.com/5xrIculZ1r
Who were these ‘many friends’?— D Villella ?? (@dvillella) April 1, 2020
You today: “I had many friends, people with common sense who said, ‘why don’t we just ride it out? Don’t do anything, just ride it out & think of it as the flu.'”
You, 3 weeks ago:
Think about that! pic.twitter.com/HofSYGuZu1
“If you’d been a molecular biosciences student at the University of Kansas last semester, you might have known this was coming. In class, the concept of a deadly new coronavirus outbreak originating in China—such as the one currently bringing the world to its knees—was discussed. That class was taught by Dr. Anthony R. Fehr, Assistant Professor of Infectious Disease at the University of Kansas. Until very recently, Fehr was one of about a hundred people in the country studying the coronavirus full-time.
“I had a lecture on coronaviruses last semester, in the fall, before this all happened,” he says. “I knew that there’s a lot of SARS-like viruses in China that this could happen. So I actually had a slide in my lecture that was like, ‘there are lots of SARS-like coronaviruses, we could have another outbreak within our lifetime.’”
“So I basically, you know, predicted something,” he says. “I guess I was conservative on the timeframe. But I posted that to my Facebook and everybody’s like, ‘pretty crazy!’”
Right now, Fehr is working to research conserved proteins within coronaviruses and trying to develop compounds that could inhibit them. …”
This wasn’t a failure of science.
We’ve known for decades about the unique threat to public health posed by SARS-like coronaviruses in bats in China and Southeast Asia. The Nipah virus, SARS, MERS and Ebola all foreshadowed COVID-19. We had multiple advance warnings that something like this was coming.
“Despite President Trump’s repeated assertions that the Covid-19 epidemic was “unforeseen” and “came out of nowhere,” the Pentagon was well aware of not just the threat of a novel influenza, but even anticipated the consequent scarcity of ventilators, face masks, and hospital beds, according to a 2017 Pentagon plan obtained by The Nation.
“The most likely and significant threat is a novel respiratory disease, particularly a novel influenza disease,” the military plan states. Covid-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel (meaning new to humans) coronavirus. The document specifically references coronavirus on several occasions, in one instant saying, “Coronavirus infections [are] common around the world.”
The plan represents an update to an earlier Department of Defense pandemic influenza response plan, noting that it “incorporates insights from several recent outbreaks including…2012 Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.” …”
This wasn’t a failure of foresight.
The Spanish Flu killed more Americans than all the wars of the 20th century combined. The military has long known that “the most likely and significant threat is a novel respiratory disease.”
“In determining its five priority issues—nuclear proliferation, conflict in the greater Middle East, water scarcity, pandemics, and climate change—the Skoll Global Threats Fund gave special weight to two criteria. The first is importance of the threat. In current circumstances, only pandemics seem to be an existential threat, capable of destroying America’s way of life. …”
The Rand Corporation’s National Security Research Division concluded that only a pandemic is an “existential threat” that is “capable of destroying America’s way of life.”
“WASHINGTON — The outbreak of the respiratory virus began in China and was quickly spread around the world by air travelers, who ran high fevers. In the United States, it was first detected in Chicago, and 47 days later, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. By then it was too late: 110 million Americans were expected to become ill, leading to 7.7 million hospitalized and 586,000 dead.
That scenario, code-named “Crimson Contagion” and imagining an influenza pandemic, was simulated by the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services in a series of exercises that ran from last January to August.
The simulation’s sobering results — contained in a draft report dated October 2019 that has not previously been reported — drove home just how underfunded, underprepared and uncoordinated the federal government would be for a life-or-death battle with a virus for which no treatment existed. …”
The Trump administration simulated a pandemic last year in which 586,000 Americans died.
“Event 201 was a tabletop exercise that simulated a global pandemic, which resulted from a new coronavirus. The program was hosted in October by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and World Economic Forum.
The invite-only event featured medical professionals, policy experts and business analysts all focused on how different institutions would respond to the onset of a deadly virus. The fictional coronavirus — a coronavirus, in general, being a specific kind of virus — in the scenario killed 65 million people over 18 months. Joint recommendations from participants urged international cooperation both in preparing for and handling a pandemic.
The Center for Health Security has hosted three pandemic simulations prior to Event 201, going back to a 2001 simulation known as Dark Winter. The October simulation was the first time the center included private sector actors in its exercises, in the hopes of modeling how they might also react in such a crisis. …”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the John Hopkins Center of Health Security simulated a global pandemic that emerged from a novel coronavirus last October that killed 65 million people.
For almost 20 years the U.S. military has been preparing for Dark Winter.
“On June 22, 2001, a group of well-known U.S. officials and a handful of senior policymakers gathered at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland for a senior-level exercise that simulated a biological weapons attack—an outbreak of deadly smallpox—on the United States. Designed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies (now called the Center for Health Security) and the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the day-and-a-half-long “Dark Winter” simulation was conducted to gauge how senior leaders would respond to such an attack and included such high-level participants as Sen. Sam Nunn (who played the president), former White House advisor David Gergen (the national security advisor), and the retired career diplomat Frank Wisner (the secretary of state). But Dark Winter has since become legendary in senior policymaking circles in Washington for a different reason: It has regularly been cited by its designers and participants as the clearest exhibit of the spiraling stresses, and potential social collapse, that could be sparked by a public health crisis. …”
Dark Winter simulated a smallpox attack on the United States.
This wasn’t a failure of imagination.
A global pandemic bought about by a SARS-like novel coronavirus has been predicted by public health experts for years. Hollywood has made movies about the threat.
“U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s most recent financial disclosures show that millions of dollars in stocks were sold on her behalf at the same time Congress was dealing with the impact of the coronavirus.
The largest transactions — and the most politically problematic — involve $18.7 million in sales of Intercontinental Exchange stock in three separate deals dated Feb. 26 and March 11. Loeffler is a former executive with ICE, and her husband, Jeff Sprecher, is the CEO of the company, which owns the New York Stock Exchange among other financial marketplaces. …”
“The luncheon had been organized by the Tar Heel Circle, a nonpartisan group whose membership consists of businesses and organizations in North Carolina, the state Burr represents. Membership to join the Tar Heel Circle costs between $500 and $10,000 and promises that members “enjoy interaction with top leaders and staff from Congress, the administration, and the private sector,” according to the group’s website.
In attendance, according to a copy of the RSVP list obtained by NPR, were dozens of invited guests representing companies and organizations from North Carolina. And according to federal records, those companies or their political committees donated more than $100,000 to Burr’s election campaign in 2015 and 2016. (Burr announced previously he was not planning to run for reelection in 2022.)
The message Burr delivered to the group was dire. …”
This wasn’t a failure of intelligence.
American intelligence agencies KNEW how bad the virus was in late January. The U.S. Senate was briefed on the threat and Sen. Burr and Sen. Loeffler sold off stock. China and the World Health Organization are being scapegoated. President Trump was also briefed about the threat. Even if China covered up the true death toll of the virus, the CIA knew immediately how bad it was in January.
What happened here?
I will tell you what happened: Washington didn’t want to deal with the coronavirus because it had other plans. Donald Trump was focused on assassinating Iranian military leaders, cheerleading the stock market and celebrating the lowest black unemployment rate in history. This was his case for reelection. The Democrats were focused on impeaching Trump and defeating Bernie Sanders in the primary.
In January and February, Donald Trump was told by both public health experts and by American intelligence agencies about the threat posed by the new coronavirus, but as he said in one of his recent press conferences he was advised by businessmen to “ride it out” because it was “just the flu.” This was the official GOP narrative until the second week of March when it fell apart due to the ramped up testing and the stock market crash. Trump briefly pivoted to being a “wartime president” for a week. Then he did a 180 degree turn and decided it was just the flu again and that the country would reopen by Easter. Then once the deaths started piling up in New York he changed his position again.
The critical moment was in February when Trump overruled intelligence agencies and his public health advisers and went with the narrative that was it was “just the flu.” There was no turning back at that point. Who told Donald Trump to “ride it out” because it was “just the flu”?
COVID-19 isn’t the flu. SARS-Cov-2 is nearly identical to SARS. It is a more contagious and less lethal version of SARS. This has been obvious since January.
UPDATE: It only gets worse.
“The Center’s SPARS Pandemic exercise narrative comprises a futuristic scenario that illustrates communication dilemmas concerning medical countermeasures (MCMs) that could plausibly emerge in the not-so-distant future. Its purpose is to prompt users, both individually and in discussion with others, to imagine the dynamic and oftentimes conflicted circumstances in which communication around emergency MCM development, distribution, and uptake takes place. While engaged with a rigorous simulated health emergency, scenario readers have the opportunity to mentally “rehearse” responses while also weighing the implications of their actions. At the same time, readers have a chance to consider what potential measures implemented in today’s environment might avert comparable communication dilemmas or classes of dilemmas in the future. …”
SPARS-Cov was a hypothetical novel coronavirus pandemic :
“In mid-October 2025, three deaths were reported among members of the First Baptist Church of St. Paul, Minnesota. Two of the church members had recently returned from a missionary trip to the Philippines, where they provided relief to victims of regional floods. The third was the mother of a church member who had also traveled to the Philippines with the church group but who had been only mildly sick himself. Based on the patients’ reported symptoms, healthcare providers initially guessed that they had died from seasonal influenza, which health officials predicted would be particularly virulent and widespread that fall. However, laboratory tests were negative for influenza. Unable to identify the causative agent, officials at the Minnesota Department of Health’s Public Health Laboratory sent the patients’ clinical specimens to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where scientists confirmed that the patients did not have influenza. One CDC scientist recalled reading a recent ProMed dispatch describing the emergence of a novel coronavirus in Southeast Asia, and ran a pancoronavirus RT-PCR test. A week later, the CDC team confirmed that the three patients were, in fact, infected with a novel coronavirus, which was dubbed the St. Paul Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SPARS-CoV, or SPARS), after the city where the first cluster of cases had been identified.”
There is also the “Atlantic Storm” war game which also dealt with a smallpox attack.
“Clade X” ought to sound familiar:
“A novel virus, moderately contagious and moderately lethal, has surfaced and is spreading rapidly around the globe. Outbreaks first appear in Frankfurt, Germany, and Caracas, Venezuela. The virus is transmitted person-to-person, primarily by coughing. There are no effective antivirals or vaccines. U.S. troops stationed abroad are infected. Now the first case to reach the United States had been identified on a small college campus in Massachusetts.
So began a recent day-long exercise hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. The simulation mixed details of past disasters with fictional elements to force government officials and experts to make the kinds of key decisions they could face in a real pandemic. …
Unlike Ebola, which spreads through direct contact and bodily fluids, the “Clade X” virus in the Johns Hopkins simulation was a flulike respiratory virus, which would spread far more easily from person to person through coughing and sneezing. That’s how the 1918 influenza pandemic spread. It killed more than 50 million people and is the deadliest pandemic in history. (If you ask infectious disease experts what they fear most, without fail they answer: “pandemic influenza.”)
The fictional outbreak kept getting worse. It had a 10 percent fatality rate, about the same as the SARS virus that traveled around the world in 2002-2003. Because the virus in the drill was new, no one had previous immunity to it, and it spread quickly in large cities. As it killed more than 100 million people globally, health-care systems collapsed, panic spread, the U.S. stock market crashed, and the president, members of Congress and the Supreme Court were incapacitated.
The war game was livestreamed on Facebook. It is on YouTube.