Democrats and their allies in the media have tried desperately to convince Americans that the Trump Administration ignored the threat of COVID-19 in January and February and did nothing to stop the spread. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
Almost immediately after learning of the potential threat of a novel coronavirus detected in Wuhan, China, the Administration took near-daily action to protect Americans from it.
More than a month after the Chinese government likely learned of the new virus in Wuhan, it first informed the World Health Organization (WHO) that there was an outbreak on December 31st, 2019.
Even though the Chinese offered the WHO assurances that the disease had not spread from person to person--which was almost certainly a lie--on December 31st, Taiwan raised concerns with the organization that it had found evidence of human-to-human transmission.
The following day--New Year's Day, 2020--Chinese health officials closed the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan and ban all sales of live animals.
Within a week, on January 6th, the Trump Administration first started raising concerns over the virus as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel notice for Wuhan.
"Illness with this virus has ranged from mild to severe," the CDC's website read. "Signs and symptoms of infection include fever, cough, and trouble breathing. This new coronavirus has caused severe disease and death in patients who developed pneumonia. Risk factors for severe illness are not yet clear, although older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness."
The next day, the CDC set up its coronavirus incident management system in an effort to follow the spread of the disease across Wuhan and share information with Americans who might have to travel to the region.
Four days later, on January 11th, the CDC upped its warning about Wuhan to a Level I travel health notice, urging Americans to "practice enhanced precautions" against a virus about which it was growing increasingly concerned.
At the same time, however, the WHO was downplaying the threat that coronavirus posed. Based solely on inaccurate information from the Chinese government, the WHO on January 14th tweeted that it had seen “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.”
Even though it had received a warning from Taiwan two weeks earlier that there was evidence of human-to-human transmission, and even though Thailand reported the first case of the virus outside of China on the 14th--all but proving human-to-human transmission--the WHO spread Chinese disinformation anyway.
The CDC, fortunately, wasn't nearly as naive and started screening passengers entering the United States from Wuhan at international airports in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on January 17th.
Three days later, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that several teams of doctors were already working on a potential coronavirus vaccine.
"The NIH is in the process of taking the first steps towards the development of a vaccine," NIH director Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN, which further reported that:
A team of scientists in Texas, New York and China are also at work on a vaccine, according to Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
"The lesson we've learned is coronavirus infections are serious and one of the newest and biggest global health threats," Hotez said.
He added that it's less challenging to develop a vaccine for coronaviruses than for other viruses such as HIV or influenza.
"Every virus has its challenges, but coronaviruses can be a relatively straightforward vaccine target," Hotez said.
If a vaccine is developed, he said, health care workers might be among the first to receive it because they're exposed to infected patients.
It is "remarkable" that scientists are able to start developing a vaccine for a virus that was identified less than a month ago, he said.
The next day, the CDC "activated its Emergency Operations Center to better provide ongoing support to the COVID-19 response" after confirming the first case of the virus in the U.S. Meanwhile, the NIH issued a release highlighting the steps the agency was taking to treat it:
The latest CoV to emerge is the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), recognized by Chinese authorities in Wuhan on December 31, 2019. It has spread beyond Wuhan to other Chinese cities and to multiple countries, including at least one confirmed case in the United States. The Viewpoint authors write, “While the trajectory of this outbreak is impossible to predict, effective response requires prompt action from the standpoint of classic public health strategies to the timely development and implementation of effective countermeasures.”
Current studies at NIAID-funded institutions and by scientists in NIAID laboratories include efforts that build on previous work on SARS- and MERS-CoVs. For example, researchers are developing diagnostic tests to rapidly detect 2019-nCoV infection and exploring the use of broad-spectrum anti-viral drugs to treat 2019-nCoVs
On January 23rd, the WHO issued a statement indicating that coronavirus "did not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern," but the CDC wasn't buying it. On the same day, it sought "special emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration to allow U.S. states to use a CDC-developed diagnostic test to detect the new coronavirus from China."
Currently, states with suspected cases of the new virus must send samples to the CDC for confirmation, as was the case with the U.S. resident in Washington state who was infected while visiting Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.
China has put millions of people on lockdown in Wuhan and another nearby city as authorities around the world worked to prevent the virus’s global spread.
Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA would allow states to use the CDC’s test, according to CDC spokesman Benjamin Haynes.
Four days later, the CDC issued a Level III tavel health notice--the highest level it issues--warning Americans to avoid "all nonessential travel to China."
"Widespread ongoing transmission of a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) has been reported in China," the agency warned. "Widespread ongoing transmission means that people have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known, and virus transmission is ongoing in many communities across a country or region."
Two days later, on January 29th, President Trump announced the formation of a new Coronavirus Task Force.
"Members of the Task Force have been meeting on a daily basis since Monday," the White House said in a news release. "At today’s meeting, which the President chaired, he charged the Task Force with leading the United States Government response to the novel 2019 coronavirus and with keeping him apprised of developments.
"The Task Force will lead the Administration’s efforts to monitor, contain, and mitigate the spread of the virus, while ensuring that the American people have the most accurate and up-to-date health and travel information."
That same day, President Trump signed the National Biodefense Strategy, a comprehensive, wide-ranging plan for combating outbreaks such as COVID-19. As the document outlined:
Biological threats—whether naturally occurring, accidental, or deliberate in origin—are among the most serious threats facing the United States and the international community. Outbreaks of disease can cause catastrophic harm to the United States. They can cause death, sicken, and disable on a massive scale, and they can also inflict psychological trauma and economic and social disruption.
The risks from biological threats cannot be reduced to zero – but they can and must be managed. Wide-ranging threats require a comprehensive approach to minimizing the risks. Through this National Biodefense Strategy, the United States Government will optimize its own efforts, and harness the work of essential partners—inside government and outside, domestically and internationally—to understand, prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the full range of biological threats that can harm the American people and our partners.
On January 31st, the Trump Administration put this plan into action, declaring coronavirus a public health emergency and announcing sweeping restrictions on travel to and from China that included funneling all flights into and out of the country into just seven American airports.
Democrats immediately decried this as racist and xenophobic.
“In moments like this, this is where the credibility of a president is most needed, as he explains what we should and should not do,” presidential candidate Joe Biden said. “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia, hysterical xenophobia, to uh, and fear mongering.”
The national news media followed Biden's lead and blasted Trump's order as unnecessary and cruel.
Calling it an "emotional or political reaction," The New York Times highlighted how it "sent shocks through the stock market and rattled industries that depend on the flow of goods and people between the world’s two largest economies. Planning was upended for companies across a vast global supply chain, from Apple to John Deere, the tractor company."
Vox.com was even more hysterical, writing that "the evidence on travel bans for diseases like coronavirus is clear: They don't work. They're political theater, not good public health policy."
Not to be outdone, STATNews wrote that "the Trump administration’s decision to ban most foreign nationals who had been to China in the last two weeks from traveling to the United States amid an accelerating outbreak of a novel coronavirus there was preceded by calls for similar policies from conservative lawmakers and far-right supporters of the president. Public health experts, however, warn that the move could do more harm than good."
The Washington Post, meanwhile, simply regurgitated Chinese propaganda:
But even before U.S. officials announced such a drastic escalation in travel restrictions on Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry criticized the United States for making “unfriendly comments” during the coronavirus outbreak and said a U.S. warning against travel to China went against recommendations made by the World Health Organization to not restrict travel or trade. “In disregard of WHO recommendation against travel restrictions, the US went the opposite way,” the ministry’s spokesman said in English-language messages on Twitter on Friday. “Where is its empathy?”
On February 4th, President Trump devoted a portion of his State of the Union Address to the outbreak, saying that "protecting Americans’ health also means fighting infectious diseases. We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the coronavirus outbreak in China. My administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat."
Afterwards, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi infamously ripped the President's speech up.
Two days later, the CDC announced that it had begun shipping the coronavirus test kits it had developed to laboratories across the U.S. and the world:
A CDC-developed laboratory test kit to detect 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) began shipping yesterday to select qualified U.S. and international laboratories. Distribution of the tests will help improve the global capacity to detect and respond to the 2019 novel coronavirus.
The test kit, called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panel (CDC 2019-nCoV Real Time RT-PCR), is designed for use with an existing RT-PCR testing instrument that is commonly used to test for seasonal influenza.
On February 9th, during the National Governors' Association Meeting in Washington, D.C., members of the Coronavirus Task Force gave a detailed briefing on the spread of the virus to governors across the country.
"Topics included the importance of close collaboration between federal, state, and local government agencies," The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a news release, "the ongoing work to protect and inform the American public; the decisive, proactive steps the Coronavirus Task Force has taken to date to slow the spread of the virus; the coordination with states on temporary travel restrictions, funneling of passengers, and screening activities currently in place; and the ongoing work on diagnostics, therapies, and vaccines."
Two days later, HHS announced that it was "expanding our collaboration with Janssen Research & Development, part of Johnson & Johnson, to expedite the development of vaccines that protect against this new coronavirus."
On Valentine's Day, February 14th, the CDC began "working with five public health labs across the U.S. to tap into their ability to conduct community-based influenza surveillance, so [the CDC] can begin testing people with flu-like symptoms for novel coronavirus." Four days later, it announced a plan to partner with Sanofil Pasteur to launch "a Phase II/III clinical program in the U.S. evaluating the marketed arthritis drug Kevzara (sarilumab) as a treatment for severe COVID-19 coronavirus infection in up to 400 patients."
On February 24th, President Trump sent a letter to Congress requesting $2.5 billion to help fight the spread of coronavirus.
"The request for the Department of Health and Human Services includes $1.25 billion in new funds to fight COVID-19 and the transfer of $535 million from untouched funds for the Ebola virus," reported Axios.
House Speaker Pelosi's response?
"[T]he President is compounding our vulnerabilities by seeking to ransack funds still needed to keep Ebola in check. The President should not be raiding money that Congress has appropriated for other life-or-death public health priorities."
Two days later, the President was in India for a state visit and discussed the effort to contain coronavirus during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"We discussed a lot of different elements," Trump said. "We actually discussed the coronavirus. And at this moment, India doesn’t have much of a problem, they feel. We certainly — it wasn’t expressed that they did, which is great. And I think that whole situation will start working out. A lot of talent, a lot of brainpower is being put behind it. Two and a half billion dollars."
On the final day of February, the FDA ramped up its development and testing of coronavirus test kits as the White House expanded its travel advisory for China to new outbreak hot spots Italy and South Korea while banning all travel to and from Iran altogether.
For two straight months--from the moment it first learned from China that coronavirus was a potentially dangerous virus--the Trump Administration has worked to stop its spread, even as the President's enemies in the Democratic Party in the media derided him for it.
Now, gallingly, they are even attempting to rewrite history and claim that his Administration did nothing for two months. But as even a cursory glance at the facts reveals, however, this is an abject, verifiable lie.