Throughout March, President Trump was telling the press that "nobody" could have possibly predicted the virus would escalate into a global pandemic, causing our current crisis.
Newly surfaced memos, however, show that at least one of President Trump's most senior advisors repeatedly warned him of the virus' possible impact in the weeks and months leading up to that point.
On March 19, Trump said:
"Nobody knew there'd be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion."
The next week, he repeated:
"...nobody would have ever thought a thing like this could have happened."
The battle to keep Americans from understanding what went on January to April is going to be one of the biggest pro… https://t.co/1K72n6UA0u— Jay Rosen (@Jay Rosen)1586231090.0
The New York Times uncovered a memo from January 29 in which Navarro advises President Trump that the "risk of a worst-case pandemic scenario should not be overlooked."
In the memo, he warns that an outbreak on U.S. soil could kill as many as half a million Americans and devastate the economy.
A memo from Peter Navarro said failure to contain coronavirus could lead to 100s of 1000s of deaths and trillions i… https://t.co/IALgxaHypo— Adam Goldman (@Adam Goldman)1586259562.0
"The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown [virus] outbreak on U.S. soil."
SCOOP - WH trade adviser Peter Navarro wrote a late January memo warning of a possible pandemic that would cause fi… https://t.co/A3edRT04cB— Maggie Haberman (@Maggie Haberman)1586228072.0
Navarro advised an immediate travel ban on China. The White House enacted this ban within the next two days, though Trump was still claiming at that time that the virus was "totally under control" and that it was going to "miraculously go away."
The Times also uncovered a second memo from Navarro, dated February 23, which in its opening sentence warned Trump of the "increasing probability of a full-blown ... pandemic that could infect as many as 100 million Americans, with a loss of life of as many as 1 - 2 million souls."
Navarro's Feb. 23 memo was unsigned and distributed through the NSC. It began: "There is an increasing probability… https://t.co/3jey5YyYrK— Jonathan Swan (@Jonathan Swan)1586229953.0
Later that same week, still insisting the virus was "very much under control," Trump would claim:
"It's going to disappear. One day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear."
Though it's unknown whether Trump himself read Navarro's memos, they were widely circulated through "multiple" agencies, including the White House and the National Security Council.
Nobody could have predicted this 🙄 https://t.co/7PeIyk6r1q— Asha Rangappa (@Asha Rangappa)1586263931.0
Epidemiologists have been united in their message that the most important step to combatting a pandemic is getting out in front of it and taking action before the disease has become widespread.
These memos give yet more clear evidence that President Trump was given the opportunity to take bold, early action, and instead decided to downplay the threat.
Now, over 10,900 Americans have died due to the virus, and the White House predicts between 100,000 and 200,000 lives will be lost before this crisis passes.
These terrible results could have been mitigated if President Trump and his team had listened to the warnings from their own advisors instead of pretending everything was fine while ignoring the problem.