"No one could have seen this coming." That's what Trump said about the coronavirus. (Okay, it's also what Trump says about pretty much any disaster he's faced with and didn't prepare for. Never mind that it's his job to anticipate problems, and should have had at least some operation to fall back on as a starting point from which to develop assistance for those crises that truly couldn't be foreseen.) But no, "No one could have seen this coming." No one could have anticipated a pandemic. (Never mind his own tweets during the Obama administration about the Ebola virus.)
No, it couldn't have been anticipated, he says. "No one could have seen this coming."
Chris Lu was the Deputy Secretary of Labor during the Obama Administration. He also served as the Transition Director to help prepare the Trump administration before it took office. Yesterday, he sent out a six-part tweet about a part of that transition. Rather than post six tweet, I've taken the text and edited it into a single piece --
BREAKING: A week before Inauguration Day 2017, Trump team participated in a tabletop exercise with outgoing Obama team about preparing for a "major domestic incident"
One incident discussed was a pandemic. I participated in that exercise.
There were 3 role-playing scenarios: hurricane, pandemic and cyber incident. Obama team discussed need to anticipate requirements, stay ahead of challenges and provide resources quickly
The goal was to acquaint Trump officials with how to coordinate around major incidents.
The pandemic role-playing scenario involved:
-- "Novel influenza" with infections in Asia and Europe
-- Efficient person-to-person transmission
-- Insufficient lab capacities
-- Travel bans
-- Lag time before it comes to U.S.
-- Need for vaccine
-- Ventilator shortages
Thirty Trump officials attended the exercise (Cabinet and senior White House staff)
[You can find the official "Readout of the Principal Transistion Exercise" that he linked to here.]
But the vast majority of these officials are no longer in government
When you're dealing with a crisis like #COVID19, stable and experienced leadership matters.
Bottom line: when Trump says "we were all surprised" by #COVID19, he shouldn't have been.
The Obama team warned Trump's staff about a possible pandemic. Whether it was lack of preparation or staff turnover, the necessary work wasn’t done to get in front of this.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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