One week before Donald Trump took office, the Obama administration briefed the new president's transition team that he should prepare for an emerging pandemic, much like the coronavirus that has claimed more than 28,000 lives as of 7 pm tonight.
The warning came in an exercise that ran the Trump team through a series of pandemic-scenarios to familiarize them with "domestic incident management policy and practices" should such a crisis occur, reported POLITICO on March 16.
The exercise was focused on a strain of novel influenza known as H9N2 that was crashing health systems in Asia, overwhelmed by demand, that could result in the worst pandemic since 1918.
"But unlike the coronavirus pandemic currently ravaging the globe, this 2017 crisis didn’t really happen — it was among a handful of scenarios presented to Trump’s top aides as part of a legally required transition exercise with members of the outgoing administration of Barack Obama," POLITICO said.
Documents obtained by POLITICO from the meeting illustrate the extent to which Trump's transition team was warned about what preparations would be needed for a pandemic, exactly like the one that is ravaging the world today.
Key points in the discussion included:
A collective understanding of the science and the disease must drive response decisions;
Days and even hours are paramount in order to build as much lead time as possible;
A coordinated and unified national response and message is necessary; and
“Medical countermeasure strategy is key for success,” including social distancing and addressing shortages in ventilators and personal protective equipment.
Now, check out the list of Trump people who attended the meeting:
Steven Mnuchin, now Secretary of the Treasury
Rep. Mike Pompeo, now Secretary of State
Wilbur Ross, now Secretary of Commerce
Betsy DeVos, now Secretary of Education
Dr. Ben Carson, now Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Elaine Chao, now Secretary of Transportation
Stephen Miller, now Senior Advisor to the President
Marc Short, now Vice President Mike Pence's Chief of Staff
Reince Priebus, resigned as White House Chief of Staff
Rex Tillerson, fired as Trump Secretary of State
Gen. James Mattis, fired as Trump Secretary of Defense
Rep. Ryan Zinke, resigned as Trump Secretary of the Interior
Sen. Jeff Sessions, resigned as Attorney General
Sen. Dan Coats, fired as Trump's Director of National Intelligence
Andrew Puzder, not confirmed as Secretary of Labor
Dr. Tom Price, resigned as Trump Secretary of Health and Human Services
Gov. Rick Perry, resigned as Trump Secretary of Labor
Dr. David Shulkin, fired as Trump Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Gen. John Kelly, resigned as White House Chief of Staff
Rep. Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and former acting White House Chief of Staff
Linda McMahon, resigned as Administrator of the Small Business Administration
Sean Spicer, fired as White House Communications Director and Press Secretary
Joe Hagin, resigned as White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations
Joshua Pitcock, resigned as chief of staff to Vice President Pence
Tom Bossert, fired as Homeland Security Advisor
KT McFarland, resigned as Deputy National Security Advisor
Gen. Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor and now awaiting criminal sentencing for lying to the FBi in the Russia investigation
Gary Cohn, resigned as Trump Director of the National Economic Council and Chief Economic Advisor to the President
Katie Walsh, resigned as White House Deputy Chief of Staff
Rick Dearborn, resigned as White House Deputy Chief of Staff
A stellar group that clearly did nothing as a result of the briefing. And now, we're dealing with the consequences of that failure -- massive sickness and death, and a crashed economy.