Monday, April 13, 2020

Could Have And Would Have

On Sunday's "State of the Union," Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN host Jake Tapper

It's -- it's very difficult to go back and say that. I mean, obviously, you could logically say, that if you had a process that was ongoing, and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. Obviously, no one is going to deny that.

But what goes into those kinds of decisions is -- is complicated. But you're right. I mean, obviously, if we had, right from the very beginning, shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different.

But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then.

A political scientist weighs in with an insightful response:
The New York Times reported Saturday that intelligence sources in early January informed the National Security Council that the virus would spread to the USA. On January 28 the President received from trade advisor Peter Navarro a memorandum noting, the Times reported, "the potential risks of a coronavirus pandemic."  Health and Human Services secretary Azar warned Trump on January 30 about the possibility of a pandemic. (Axios calculates a minimum of ten times that either the President or his Administration was warned.) Moreover

By the third week in February, the administration’s top public health experts concluded they should recommend to Mr. Trump a new approach that would include warning the American people of the risks and urging steps like social distancing and staying home from work. But the White House focused instead on messaging and crucial additional weeks went by before their views were reluctantly accepted by the president — time when the virus spread largely unimpeded.

In his behalf, President Trump does brag about having ordered on January 29 the cessation of flights from mainland China by American airlines. However, Chinese airlines continued their flights to the USA and in the following two months, approximately 40,000 people- roughly 60% not American citizens- have nonetheless arrived. Give that man a cookie.

Vox explains that several governors have stated that orders for personal protective equipment have been canceled "because the federal government outbid them. This has led to some finding creative ways to disguise their orders to mask them from the Trump administration."   There is one obvious reason the Trump Administration has taken this approach.

Two months in, tens of thousands of Americans dead, hundreds of thousands more infected and, as The Washington Post observed, "the Trump administration still has no clear plan for ending the coronavirus crisis." It's not for lack of knowledge or creativity, though. We learn

Trump shows up to task force meetings infrequently, but when he does, he is a lively presence who often makes the gatherings more lighthearted, aides said. In one meeting, Trump suggested that he present the good news and Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, give the bad news — a good-cop-bad-cop addition to the evening briefing.

No time for a plan, but time for a good show. If the federal government had "started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives," Dr. Fauci concedes. However, neither he nor we accounted for having a President who would consider that a bug and not a benefit.

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