In December of 2019 I was contacted by a Chinese company who wanted to start a collaboration.
We had a few conference calls and video conferences and agreed for a visit to China during the month of March 2020.
On the 25th of January, made aware by the news, of the viral epidemic in China, I spoke with officials of the company and we agreed to adjurm my trip to China.
I tell this to say that in spite of my being a retired scientist living in a city in a deep-south state, I had access to info that called me to caution as far as a personal trip was concerned.
One can surmise that government officials would have had access to the same information that I had in January, in December.
As a matter of fact, government officials who live in Washington DC have access to first hand information thanks to the capillary diplomatic US system, and have the possibility to interact with perhaps the best intelligence and scientific organizations in the world.
It is therefore fair to say that, informed about what was happening in China and in South Korea since early January 2020, the members of the administration in charge of Public Health had the possibility to contact scientists, diplomats and pharmacy corporations to analyze all the possible scenarios, identify the needs, organize the logistics and trigger biomedical and biotechnological actions to prepare the country.
Two months can be a quite long time interval, sufficient to examine scenarios and make decisions accordingly. Decisions made in late January could have started the production of all the medical tools that are missing today such as masks and ventilators and ICU beds and test kits, to undertake large range random testing, to prepare the economical world to tackle softly the slow down that could have been expected, and to prepare the organization of “social – distance” in such a way to harm as little as possible social activities such as education, mail, shipping, shopping and the like.
These two months have been wasted by an administration that did not understand or preferred to ignore the information coming from China and South Korea and its dire consequences. We have now achieved the highest number of cases in the world.
We are now a good month behind Italy, we have six times more inhabitants than Italy and we can expect six times more deaths…if we enforce immediately draconian measures of confinement and social distance. If we do not follow the examples of China, South Korea and Italy, then the death toll can be on the order of millions of casualties, thanks to the ineptness and unfitness of our commander in chief.