A Thursday report from The New York Times claims that a Donald Trump appointee last year used a simulation called “Crimson Contagion” to predict the poor coordination between federal and local agencies that has allegedly defined the United States’ initial response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The simulation was reportedly run by the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services from January 2019 to August 2019. The program reportedly simulated a respiratory virus that begins in China and infects 110 million Americans, with 7.7 million hospitalizations and 586,000 deaths.
According to the data, which was gained from the simulated incorporation of a dozen agencies and another dozen states, the federal government would be “underfunded, underprepared and uncoordinated” in the case of a battle with a virus with no treatment.
“The draft report, marked ‘not to be disclosed,’ laid out in stark detail repeated cases of ‘confusion’ in the exercise,” The New York Times report reads.
“Federal agencies jockeyed over who was in charge. State officials and hospitals struggled to figure out what kind of equipment was stockpiled or available. Cities and states went their own ways on school closings.”
The New York Times report claims that there have been three occasions of the past four years of U.S. government — across both the Trump and Barack Obama administrations — that the shortcomings of the federal government’s response to a pandemic were broached.
Coronavirus testing:— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) March 10, 2020
S Korea: 3,700 per million citizens
US: 5 (as of March 8)
(CDC, WHO) pic.twitter.com/c6DfkNv9RB
In response to the report, the White House allegedly said that it responded to the 2019 simulation with an executive order to increase both the availability and quality of flu vaccines. It also claimed to have pushed for increased funding for the Health and Human Services’ global pandemic threat program.
“Any suggestion that President Trump did not take the threat of COVID-19 seriously is false,” said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman.
Regardless, Trump administration officials have not explained why the rollout for coronavirus testing was so slow and not up to the speed that the simulation recommended. Although Congress was reportedly briefed on the findings in December — around the time the virus was emerging in China — testing for COVID-19 in the U.S. has continued to lag behind other countries.
Per The New York Times, research conducted over the last five years suggests that the federal government had “considerable knowledge” of the risks a pandemic would cause, as well as the problems the Trump administration is now “scrambling” to address.
As noted by The Washington Post, a recent study from Imperial College London claims that the U.S. must pursue a “wide adoption” of measures to reduce coronavirus transmission and decrease the demand that is placed on health care services.