How Trump’s White House fucked up on the pandemic by paying no attention to a precise warning prepared by actual scientists in the administration (at least one of whom is no longer working in government).
This New York Times article by Jim Tankersley is entitled, “White House Economists Warned in 2019 a Pandemic Could Devastate America: A study published last fall went unheeded. One of its authors now says economic shutdowns to fight the coronavirus could last up to eight months.”
Here are a couple of paragraphs identifying one of Trump’s mediocrities and telling us what he did and said about the warning. My warning to you before you read this. You’re going to (1) scream in rage and (2) jump into this screen or into the White House and strangle Tomas Philipson:
“I don’t think corona is as big a threat as people make it out to be,” the acting chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Tomas Philipson, told reporters during a Feb. 18 briefing, on the same day that more than a dozen American cruise ship passengers who had contracted the virus were evacuated home. Public health threats did not typically hurt the economy, Mr. Philipson said. He suggested the virus would not be nearly as bad as a normal flu season.
The 2019 study warned otherwise — specifically urging Americans not to conflate the risks of a typical flu and a pandemic. The existence of that warning undermines administration officials’ contentions in recent weeks that no one could have seen the virus damaging the economy as it has. The study was requested by the National Security Council, according to two people familiar with the matter.
One of the authors of the study, who has since left the White House, now says it would make sense for the administration to effectively shut down most economic activity for two to eight months to slow the virus.
Council officials said on Tuesday that Mr. Philipson was not available for an interview. He gave no indication this year that the study and its predictions had influenced administration officials in their early response to the coronavirus outbreak.