The Trump administration found extensive preparedness issues when it ran a simulation of a potential pandemic in the United States but did little to resolve them, The New York Times reports.
The Department of Health and Human Services last year ran a simulation titled “Crimson Contagion” in which a respiratory virus from China spread throughout the United States, infecting 110 million Americans and leading to 7.7 million hospitalizations and 568,000 deaths.
The department detailed the results in an October report showing how “underfunded, underprepared and uncoordinated the federal government would be for a life-or-death battle with a virus for which no treatment existed,” The Times reported.
Report predicted what is happening today:
Many of the findings are in line with what the country is seeing today amid the coronavirus crisis.
The simulation found that hospitals struggled with equipment shortages, states and cities diverged on closures, federal agencies beefed over who was in charge, and all of that led to “confusion.”
The simulation came after another exercise in 2017, in which outgoing Obama officials ran a simulation of a pandemic response for the incoming Trump administration.
Little was done in response:
The results did not appear to get much attention from top officials and little seems to have been done in response.
The White House told The Times that it responded to the exercise by issuing an executive order on the availablity of flu vaccines and moved to increase funding for the HHS program on global pandemic threats, although the administration also disbanded the National Security Council’s pandemic team and called for large cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“But the planning and thinking happened many layers down in the bureaucracy,” The Times reported. “The knowledge and sense of urgency about the peril appear never to have gotten sufficient attention at the highest level of the executive branch or from Congress, leaving the nation with funding shortfalls, equipment shortages and disorganization within and among various branches and levels of government.”