RELEASE: New Interactive Timeline Traces Trump Administration’s Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

Washington, D.C. — On January 13, 2017, a week before Donald Trump’s inauguration, the outgoing Obama administration held a pandemic-response briefing with senior Trump officials. The exercise, intended to test the incoming administration’s capability to combat a global outbreak similar to COVID-19, reportedly stressed the “paramount” need for a “coordinated, unified national response” and warned that the federal and state governments could face difficulties “such as shortages of ventilators, anti-viral drugs and other medical essentials.” Three years later, as countries around the world began to prepare to mitigate the loss of life and the economic devastation of such a global threat, the Trump administration disregarded the Obama administration’s “pandemic playbook,” which provided a blueprint for how to manage a crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic. 

Unfortunately, the Trump administration continued not to plan for, as well as to ignore warnings of, a global pandemic for years, even as experts within the administration sounded the alarm about the potential deadly impact of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. The cost of President Trump’s inaction is now evident: The United States leads the world as the epicenter of the crisis, with close to 1 million infected; more than 50,000 dead; and job losses not seen since the Great Depression, with more than 26.5 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits.

Today, the Center for American Progress is launching a live interactive timeline that traces every step of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, including early warnings the administration ignored; weeks Trump wasted playing golf, holding rallies, and downplaying the threat to protect his political interests; and every unfulfilled promise and tragic misstep that has cost American lives.

“From the beginning of the pandemic, the Trump White House has downplayed the threat, ignored expert warnings, spouted falsehoods and contradictions, undercut governors, blamed everyone but themselves, and failed to uphold promises about everything from testing to reopening the economy. It’s dizzying, and almost impossible to keep track of in the daily news deluge. This tool is meant to help cut through the chaos and provide the facts you need to know to make sense of it all,” said Ryan Koronowski, director of Special Research Projects at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the timeline.

View the interactive timeline: “Blinking Red:” How the Trump Administration Ignored Warnings, Misled the Public, and Made the Coronavirus Crisis Worse by Ryan Koronowski, Jeremy Venook, and Will Ragland

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To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.