US intelligence reports from January warned about a likely pandemic -Trump wouldn’t listen
- The US intelligence community was warning President Donald Trump about an impending pandemic as early as January, The Washington Post reported.
- Officials were giving Trump classified briefings on the matter at the same time the president was publicly downplaying the risk of the novel coronavirus and insisting the US was well prepared to handle the outbreak.
- "The system was blinking red," a US official told The Post. "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."
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United States intelligence agencies were warning President Donald Trump about an impending pandemic as early as January, The Washington Post reported.
Officials were giving Trump classified briefings on the matter at the same time that the president was publicly downplaying the risk of the novel coronavirus and insisting the US was well prepared to handle the outbreak.
The Post reported that intelligence documents closely tracked the virus' spread in Wuhan, China, where it originated and as it later progressed through mainland China, but they did not specify when the disease would make it to the US.
"The system was blinking red," one US official with access to the intelligence told The Post. Agencies "have been warning on this since January."
"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 official added.
The intelligence documents were disseminated to White House officials as well as congressional lawmakers and their staff. Congress also began receiving daily briefings on the virus earlier this year as it rapidly spread across the globe.
By the end of January and beginning of February, a majority of the intelligence contained in Trump's daily briefings was about the coronavirus, according to The Post.
The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11. To date, 271,629 people around the world have become infected and 11,282 have died.
Trump declared a national emergency last week but has since been criticised for misrepresenting information about when a vaccine may become available, and blaming the mainstream media and his critics for the continued escalation of the crisis.
In the absence of strong federal guidance, various states and cities have had to take matters into their own hands and introduced sweeping measures to restrict public gatherings and stop the spread of the virus.
The governors of New York and California issued statewide orders mandating that residents stay inside as much as possible and limit their outdoor activity. Across the country, millions of people have been forced to work from home or lost their jobs altogether as nonessential businesses have been ordered to shut down.
Trump on Friday evening approved a major disaster declaration for the state of New York, which has been the hardest hit by the disease's outbreak in the US.
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