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Sat Apr 4, 2020, 02:12 PM

The Army warned Trump two months ago that COVID-19 was a 'black swan' on the way to wreck America

The number of warnings that President Donald Trump missed in order to make the United States home to a quarter of all COVID-19 cases on the planet seems almost as endless as the supply of virus. There was the simulation that was set up for Trump’s team by the Obama administration during the transition, which included specific warnings about shortages of ventilators and protective gear. There was a 2016 Pandemic Playbook that emphasized the need for a unified central response and the perils of having states fight for scarce resources. There was Operation Crimson Contagion just last fall, in which Trump’s team flunked every possible stage of preparation and response. And there was the annual DHS simulation that should have taken place … except that Trump canceled that annual review. Just like he destroyed the pandemic response team within the National Security Council, ignored the warnings of the rear admiral in charge of preventing pandemics and biological attacks, and, most amazingly, canceled a program designed to find potential viral threats that was working specifically with labs in Wuhan, China on issues with novel coronavirus.

If Donald Trump’s actual intention was to knock down every barrier to infection, paint a giant welcome sign above the country, and declare America host to Virus-con 2020, he could not have done a better—meaning worse—job. But as it turns out, that’s not all. Because Trump was still ignoring the information on the coming pandemic, even when that pandemic was already underway.

As The Daily Beast reported on Thursday evening, the U.S. Army evaluated the situation with the 2019 novel coronavirus at the beginning of February. That analysis said what epidemiologist around the world were already saying—that this was a potential “black swan” event that would completely disrupt the American economy and bring an estimated 80,000 to 150,000 deaths.

But as much as the Army was trying to conduct a worst-case scenario, the values that it came up with now look all too much like a “best case.” In part, that’s because the Army made some of the assumptions that other agencies were making at the time—specifically that China was vastly underreporting cases and that the true case fatality rate of COVID-19 was much lower than statistics at the time indicated. So the Army projection calls for a full one third of the nation to be infected, but projects that 80 million cases will result in only 300,000 to 500,000 needed to be hospitalized, and eventually that 80,000 to 150,000 deaths. That’s a hospitalization rate well below 1% and a overall fatality rate of about a 0.1%.


But remember Cadet Bonespurs knows more than the Generals.

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