The White House has reportedly deviated from guidelines set out in a 2016 National Security Council (NSC) memo detailing the U.S. response to a global disease outbreak.
The 69-page document, obtained by Politico, lays out step-by-step responses to a pandemic, such as implementing directives on workplace safety and procurement of safety equipment.
The Trump administration has failed to follow multiple recommendations, Politico noted, and is only just now taking some steps directed for the early days of the coronavirus’s spread
Under the NSC timeline, the Trump administration in late January should have begun issuing directives aimed at “coordination of workforce protection activities including… [personal protective equipment] determination, procurement and deployment,” according to the report. Such actions have only been recently implemented.
A request for congressional funding to combat the pandemic, the timeline further dictates, should have taken place a month before it happened. President TrumpDonald John TrumpNorth Korea asking for aid, while denying any coronavirus cases: report Iranian official maintains Tehran has ‘no knowledge’ of American hostage’s whereabouts Unemployment claims surge to 3.2 million as coronavirus devastates economy MORE signed into law two bills responding to the coronavirus epidemic in March, and is expected to sign a third aimed at providing an economic stimulus in the days ahead.
“We recommend early budget and financial analysis of various response scenarios and an early decision to request supplemental funding from Congress, if needed,” the timelines states. However, Congress and the administration failed to act for most of February, more than a month after the first case was confirmed in the U.S., Politico noted.
“While each emerging infectious disease threat will present itself in a unique way, a consistent, capabilities-based approach to addressing these threats will allow for faster decisions with more targeted expert subject matter input from federal departments and agencies,” the memo reads.
An official with the National Security Council told Politico in a statement that the report had been replaced by newer policies taking into account lessons from the spread of Ebola in Africa.
“We are aware of the document, although it’s quite dated and has been superseded by strategic and operational biodefense policies published since,” the official said. “The plan we are executing now is a better fit, more detailed, and applies the relevant lessons learned from the playbook and the most recent Ebola epidemic in the [Democratic Republic of the Congo] to COVID-19.”