Will Trump fire Dr. Fauci this week. More importantly will Trump even acknowledge the death toll other than saying “it’s a bad week” and babble some happy talk. He will promote the debut of a economic reopening council only to divert attention to the now 22,000 deaths.
Feb 12: 14 cases
March 12: 1,645 cases
April 12: 556,044 cases
And more than 22k dead.
The bottom line: Anthony Fauci said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that "no one is going to deny" that more lives could have been saved if the Trump administration had implemented social distancing guidelines earlier on.
The state of play: The first case of COVID-19 reached the U.S. on Jan. 15. The World Health Organization declared it a pandemic on March 11. Trump declared the U.S. outbreak a national emergency on March 13.
- On Jan. 18, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar first briefed Trump on the threat of the virus in a phone call, the New York Times reports. Trump made his first public comments about the virus on Jan. 22, saying he was not concerned about a pandemic and that "we have it totally under control."
- On Jan. 27, White House aides met with then-acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to try to get senior officials to take the virus threat more seriously, the Washington Post reports. Joe Grogan, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, warned it could cost Trump his re-election.
- On Jan. 29, economic adviser Peter Navarro warned the White House in a memo addressed to the National Security Council that COVID-19 could take more than half a million American lives and cause nearly $6 trillion in economic damage.
- On Jan. 30, Azar warned Trump in a subsequent call that the virus could become a pandemic and that China should be criticized for its lack of transparency, per the Times. Trump dismissed Azar as alarmist and rejected the idea of criticizing China.
- Also on Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global health emergency. WHO has only done so five times since gaining that power in 2005.
- On Feb. 5, senators urged the administration in a briefing to take the virus more seriously and asked if additional funds were necessary. The administration made no requests at the time for emergency funding.
- On Feb. 14, a memo was drafted by health officials in coordination with the National Security Council that recommended the targeted use of "quarantine and isolation measures," per the Times. Officials planned to present Trump with the memo when he returned from India on Feb. 25, but the meeting was canceled.
- On Feb. 21, the White House coronavirus task force conducted a mock exercise of the pandemic. The group concluded that the U.S. would need to implement aggressive social distancing, even if it caused mass disruption to the economy and American lives, per the Times.
- On Feb. 23, Navarro doubled down on his warnings in another memo, this time addressed to the president, stating that up to 2 million Americans could die of the virus.
- On Feb. 25, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Nancy Messonnier publicly warned of the virus threat and said "we need to be preparing for significant disruption in our lives.” Trump reportedly called Azar fuming that Messonnier had scared people unnecessarily and caused the stock market to plummet, per the Times.
February was a tipping point for some experts.
The concern these medical experts had been raising in late January and early February turned to alarm by the third week in February. That was when they effectively concluded that the United States had already lost the fight to contain the virus, and that it needed to switch to mitigation. One critical element in that shift was the realization that many people in the country were likely already infected and capable of spreading the virus, but not showing any symptoms.