New Report Details US Intel Warnings About Coronavirus From Earlier This Year: ‘System Was Blinking Red’
A new report details the “ominous” warnings from U.S. intelligence agencies in January and February about how serious the spread of coronavirus was going to be.
The intelligence reports didn’t predict when the virus might land on U.S. shores or recommend particular steps that public health officials should take, issues outside the purview of the intelligence agencies. But they did track the spread of the virus in China, and later in other countries, and warned that Chinese officials appeared to be minimizing the severity of the outbreak.
Taken together, the reports and warnings painted an early picture of a virus that showed the characteristics of a globe-encircling pandemic that could require governments to take swift actions to contain it. But despite that constant flow of reporting, Trump continued publicly and privately to play down the threat the virus posed to Americans. Lawmakers, too, did not grapple with the virus in earnest until this month, as officials scrambled to keep citizens in their homes and hospitals braced for a surge in patients suffering from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
These warnings reportedly “increased in volume” and by early last month, “a majority of the intelligence reporting included in daily briefing papers” was about the coronavirus.
One anonymous official criticized the president’s response in particular, saying, “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… The system was blinking red.”
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley responded to criticism of the president’s response in a statement to the Post that swiped at “cowardly unnamed sources… attempt[ing] to rewrite history.”
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