Alwaght- Donald Trump reportedly has ignored reports from US intelligence agencies that expressed concerns in January and February about the dangers posed by the coronavirus outbreak in China.
The Washington Post, citing US intelligence officials, reported on Friday that Trump and members of Congress underestimated the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen.
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, 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.
Trump has been mistrustful of the US intelligence community, describing it as part of a “deep state” of established bureaucrats that seek to undermine his policies.
“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.
By early February, senior US officials including Trump’s deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger, began calling for a more effective response, but Trump resisted and continued to assure Americans that the coronavirus would never run rampant as it had in other countries, according to people briefed on White House meetings.
“I think it’s going to work out fine,” Trump said on February 19. “I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus.”
But earlier that month, a senior official in the US Department of Health and Human Services delivered a drastically different message to the Senate Intelligence Committee, warning that the virus posed a “serious” threat.
Trump eventually altered his comments after being shown statistical models about the spread of the virus in Asian and European nations and hearing from business leaders last week shaken by a plunge in the stock market, the report said. But by then, the signs were indicating a major outbreak in the United States.
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.
Sick people across the US say they are being denied the coronavirus test, as American states scramble to slow the spread of COVID-19 and stop hospitals from being overwhelmed with a surge in critically ill patients.
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.