RNA - Trump and members of Congress underestimated the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen, The Washington Post reported Friday, citing US officials familiar with spy agency reporting.
The intelligence reports didn’t predict when the virus might reach the US or recommend specific methods that public health officials should take, but they did track the spread of the virus in China and other countries and warned that Chinese officials appeared to be minimizing the intensity of the outbreak, the newspaper reported.
The reports warned the need for swift measures by the US government to contain it, but Trump continued publicly and privately to play down the threat the virus posed to Americans, the Post said.
“Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it,” a US official told the newspaper. “The system was blinking red.”
The warnings from US intelligence agencies increased near the end of January and early February and Trump’s advisers struggled to get him to take the virus seriously, multiple officials with knowledge of the issue said.
About 60 percent of Americans are now ‘very’ or ‘somewhat worried’ they or a family member will be exposed to the coronavirus, up from 36 percent in February, while confidence in the government’s ability to respond has fallen sharply, a Gallup poll released on Monday showed.
US health experts have sharply rebuked the Trump administration for initially downplaying the crisis and lagging behind in testing efforts.
As of Saturday morning, at least 19,624 people across the US have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 241 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Globally, over 275,000 people have now been confirmed with the virus, while nearly 11,400 have died.