Thursday, April 9, 2020

No One Could Have Seen This Coming

No One Could Have Seen This Coming

So here's an angle that I haven't seen posted anywhere (you read it here first). One of Trump's favorite talking points these days as he seeks to deflect blame for is ill-preparedness in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic (when he's not blaming President Obama or the WHO) is that no one could have seen the coronavirus pandemic coming. The Washington Post, among others, has examined this claim and found it to be lacking.

We know, for instance, that in 2018 Trump and his team dismantled the Global Pandemic Office of the National Security Council. We also know that in early 2017, before Trump was sworn into office, Obama administration officials briefed a group of restive, incoming Trump cabinet members on how to respond to a global pandemic.

But one thing few people have noted is that in addition to all that the year 2017, the very year that Trump took office, was notable because that flu season was the worst, in terms of the number of fatalities, that the US had experience in over 4 decades. At the time the Associated Press reported:

Last fall and winter, the U.S. went through one of the most severe flu seasons in recent memory. It was driven by a kind of flu that tends to put more people in the hospital and cause more deaths, particularly among young children and the elderly....
Fatal complications from the flu can include pneumonia, stroke and heart attack.
CDC officials called the 80,000 figure preliminary, and it may be slightly revised. But they said it is not expected to go down.
It eclipses the estimates for every flu season going back to the winter of 1976-1977. Estimates for many earlier seasons were not readily available.
Last winter was not the worst flu season on record, however. The 1918 flu pandemic, which lasted nearly two years, killed more than 500,000 Americans, historians estimate.

So not only was the Trump administration handed a bureaucracy, tools and playbooks to deal with a global pandemic like the one we are now experiencing (which they either dismantled or ignored) but Trump's first year in office saw the worst flu season in 40 years. A particularly virulent flu strain triggered over 80,000 deaths in the US. Yet even that wasn't enough to shake Team trump out of their deep slumber and cause them to consider that maybe we ought to be a little better prepared for when the "big one" comes.

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