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Year of the Plague – 13 – When did the Trump Administration first know about Coronavirus?

April 17, 2020

Coronavirus response in Tunis, Tunisia, North Africa. There is concern that the impact of the Coronavirus will be even more destructive in North and Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh) and in the Middle East. all areas where it is just beginning to gear up. Photo credit: Ahmed Zarrouki,


But in re-reading a recent article I was struck by the fact that U.S. Intelligence had informed both NATO and Israel of the COVID-10 danger already sometime in the previous November, that is to say, already six weeks prior to the WHO informing the Center for Disease Control.


It now appears that the Trump Administration knew about the Coronavirus not two months before they acted, but four months – already by mid-November, making Donald Trump’s public claim of no prior knowledge of the pandemic little more than propaganda.

I’m re-posting a link to an ABC article from April 8, 2020 entitled “Intelligence report warned of coronavirus crisis as early as November: Sources”. Affirmation of its content came in an article in the Times of Israel

For about a month now, I have been putting together an informal timeline – based on press reports – all publicly available sources – that includes

  1. . simulations done the world round on a possible Coronavirus
  2. . When different authorities new or had information about the pandemic.

According to numerous sources, Trump’s most recent scapegoat for his Administration’s dramatic failure to deal with the Coronavirus in a timely fashion, the World Health Organization (WHO), had informed the U.S. – and the rest of the world – of the danger of the pandemic on January 3. The WHO itself had been informed by China already on December 31. This was reported by the Center for Disease Control.

This part of the timeline has been pretty well established for some time now and is not, today on April 17, 2020, “new” news. But the fact that the Administration knew about the Coronavirus danger much earlier has recently come to light.

In re-reading a recent article I was struck by the fact that U.S. Intelligence had informed both NATO and Israel of the COVID-10 danger already sometime in the previous November, that is to say, already six weeks prior to the WHO informing the Center for Disease Control. A detailed explanation of the Coronavirus “problem” appeared in the President’s Daily Briefing on intelligence matters in early January.

To quote from the April 8, ABC article: (posted below)

“Analysts concluded it could be a cataclysmic event,” one of the sources said of the NCMI’s report. “It was then briefed multiple times to” the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff and the White House. Wednesday night, the Pentagon issued a statement denying the “product/assessment” existed.

Even at this early date, analysts involved argued that the Coronavirus epidemic “could be a cataclysmic event” – a decidedly pointed warning, which the Trump Administration ignored at the time. Worse, the same article suggests that the Trump Administration knew about the pandemic’s danger even prior to mid November, Again, from the April 8 article:

“The timeline of the intel side of this may be further back than we’re discussing,” the source said of preliminary reports from Wuhan. “But this was definitely being briefed beginning at the end of November as something the military needed to take a posture on.”

The White House has now, predictably, denied the existence of such a report, but a more recent report in the Israeli press (Times of Israel – April 16, 2020) confirms it. Besides the report was widely spread throughout both the U.S. military and NATO.

No doubt one of the reasons to inform NATO was because of upcoming major NATO maneuvers in Europe. A week after announcing that the maneuvers would not be cancelled, on March 12, President Trump announced that “Defender Europe-20,” an exercise in which some 20,000 U.S. troops were to be sent to Europe, would be called off, along with all U.S. military exercises around the world. This was due, in part because U.S. military personnel participating in the European exercise had already tested positive for COVID-19. 

But then, according to the above articles, NATO was in the know about the Coronavirus danger before even China had announced it to the WHO on the last day of 2019 but had decided to proceed with the exercise in spite of its prior knowledge until the outcry on the utter stupidity and recklessness of proceeding with major military exercises under the circumstances, forced the Trump Administration’s hand.

Even more damning of Trump. According to a recent Reuters report, the United States had an American CDC public health expert embedded in China’s CDC, and then Trump axed the job.

For years, virologists and epidemiologists have focused internationally on the vast coronavirus family knowing it was a ticking mutating genetic time bomb for animal to human infection , especially after SARS-1 (bats) and MERS (camels).
It’s more difficult to blame China for this after you set fire to the USG’s own CDC network branch of epidemic/pandemic early warning system based in China. If there had still been a US-CDC expert there, they certainly could have raised the alarm all over the world about an unknown viral pneumonia break out threatening to become an epidemic, at least a couple of weeks prior to China finally mapping the genome.

Main point: U.S. knew about the danger of the pandemic even earlier than previous thought – The January 3 date is bad enough considering that it then took 2 /1/2 months for the Trump Administration to act on the matter but now it appears that U.S. intelligence knew a month and a half before that, if not earlier.

All this makes the Trump Administration’s  lack of early intervention and preparation for the COVID-19 that much more tragic, the Administration’s response that much more irresponsible and untenable

(note: Wonder Woman contributed to this blog entry)
2 Comments leave one →
  1. William Conklin permalink
    April 17, 2020 11:27 am

    Well, as a devoted Marxist, I think that the problem is Capitalism. Trump is the insect that was barfed to the top by the Neo Liberal System. Since we have no national health care and since we have private hospitals, there is no motivation to be prepared. Obviously, we could have been prepared for this far in advance of Donald Trump. I blame every president since FDR, especially Reagan. There is a silver lining to this cloud. Maybe the clueless population of the United States will rise up and throw off their chains; but alas, I won’t hold my breath.

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