Who Knew What, When?

“Red Dawn” emails documenting how everybody who was knowledgeable about pandemic threats knew by 1/28, even as Trump kept on comparing the novel coronavirus to the flu up to March 9th – example:

Email from Dr. James Lawler, professor, and doctor who served in the WH under Pres. G.W. Bush, & adviser to Pres. Barack Obama. More emails, see here, article here.

I still wait to find out when the President’s Daily Brief on the coronavirus threat was circulated.

45 thoughts on “Who Knew What, When?

  1. Bruce Hall

    No one knew anything apparently.

    Curious no one asks why NEW YORK is the Epicenter even though they had a minimum of 2 months to prepare..

    On January 26, New York City’s health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, warned, “It’s inevitable that we will have someone who is positive with coronavirus.” She also said, “We are encouraging New Yorkers to go about their everyday lives and suggest practicing everyday precautions that we do through the flu season.”

    February 5
    Health Commissioner Barbot declared on Twitter, “Today our city is celebrating the Lunar New Year parade in Chinatown, a beautiful cultural tradition with a rich history in our city. I want to remind everyone to enjoy the parade and not change any plans due to misinformation spreading about coronavirus.”

    February 6
    Barbot “The important thing for New Yorkers to know is that in the city currently, their risk is low and our city preparedness is high. So we know that this virus can be transmitted from one individual to another, but that it is typically people who live together. There is no risk at this point in time — we are always learning more — about having it being transmitted in casual contact. We’re telling New Yorkers, go about your lives, take the subway, go out, enjoy life, but practice everyday precautions. . . . If it were likely that it could be transmitted casually, we would be seeing a lot more cases.”

    February 9
    Chinatown in New York City held its annual Lunar New Year parade. As AM New York described the scene, “Surgical masks were nearly absent from this parade as organizers, elected officials, costumed characters, and visitors alike showed none of the fear caused by news of the virus’s spread in China. Mayor Bill de Blasio and other officials jammed a stage on Hester Street on Mott Street — the heart of Chinatown.”

    Councilman Mark D. Levine stated on Twitter, “In powerful show of defiance of coronavirus scare, huge crowds gathering in NYC’s Chinatown for ceremony ahead of annual Lunar New Year parade. Chants of ‘Be Strong Wuhan!’ If you are staying away, you are missing out.” At this point, it is impossible to know if any of the thousands of people in the crowd were infected with the coronavirus. If any were, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a large crowd is precisely what public health officials would later seek to discourage and prevent.

    February 13
    Mayor de Blasio conducted a taped interview with NBC News that ran during MSNBC’s Morning Joe. He said, “We have an extraordinary public health apparatus here in New York City . . . and what became clear to me was it was really about telling the people of our city, this is something we can handle, but you got to follow some basic rules. . . . This should not stop you from going about your life. It should not stop you from going to Chinatown and going out to eat. I am going to do that today myself.”

    Later that day, New York City Council speaker Corey Johnson said, “It is important to support the Chinese community in New York City. Unfortunately many businesses and restaurants in Chinatown, Flushing, and Sunset Park are suffering because some customers are afraid of the coronavirus. But those fears are not based on facts and science. The risk of infection to New Yorkers is low. There is no need to avoid public spaces. I urge everyone to dine and shop as usual.”

    Feb 27th
    The mayor expressed confidence in the city’s ability to handle an influx of cases. “Right now, we have 1,200 hospital beds that we can make available immediately for any individual who is in the testing process or who tests positive and needs isolation in a hospital setting, 1,200 beds that can be brought online immediately. That is a very, very substantial capacity given what we’re seeing playing out even in some of the countries that are dealing with this crisis in a much deeper manner.” But he also added, “We have requests out for an additional minimum of 300,000 surgical masks to guarantee that these arrive in New York City promptly.

    March 4
    Medical investigators found nine new cases in New York, including “the Westchester man’s wife; his son, a 20-year-old college student in Manhattan; his daughter, 14; and a neighbor who drove the man to the hospital.”

    Health Commissioner Bardot tells reporters, “There’s no indication that being in a car, being in the subways with someone who’s potentially sick is a risk factor, because, again, it goes back to the issue of casual contact.”

    March 6
    New York’s City Hall secured its first order for emergency protective gear, masks, and hand sanitizer, according to the city comptroller’s office.

    March 9
    Overseas, Italy announced its nationwide quarantine. Appearing on CNN, de Blasio said, “What I would say is we should not want to do, with all due respect to Italy, we try not to get to that level. We try and be more pinpoint in our response. Our subway is unusual because you are talking about a huge number of people packed in close. We’re trying to get folks to spread that out. So we’re saying to employers, if you can stagger work hours, that’d be helpful. If some people can telecommute and it does not disrupt business, that’s helpful. But mainly the point is go about your business. Take those basic precautions, washing your hands regularly, covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough.”

    The mayor also elaborated on his reluctance to close city schools: “Vast majority of parents I’ve spoken to over the years, in any crisis, don’t want to see the schools closed. Of course, safety first, but they depend on the schools, they are a safe place for their kids, and by the way, they want their kids to keep getting educated. So to me, it’s a high bar for a closure.”

    March 11
    During a press conference, Mayor de Blasio said he is “telling people to not avoid restaurants, not avoid normal things that people do. . . . If you’re not sick, you should be going about your life.” (The city was four days away from the announcement that the city was closing all schools.)

    March 12
    Appearing on CNN, de Blasio offered some rare praise for the president: “I accept the notion of travel bans in this environment. So I disagree with President Trump on many things but actually I think the travel-ban piece of his strategy has been, in many ways, warranted.

    March 15
    New York City closed all schools. The initial announcement was that schools would be closed until April 20; the widespread expectation from city officials was that schools would remain closed until the end of the school year. Later that evening, the city announced that bars and restaurants must shut down as well, switching to only takeout and delivery.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Bruce Hall: Proper comparison is to WA state and CA state. A competent Federal response would’ve emulated them — or even led (gasp!).

      1. pgl

        It is interesting that the new Republican meme is to blame New York City for the fact that Trump never told us the truth. No – he said there would only be 15 people who would catch this. And now thanks to his incompetence, we are indeed the epicenter and our medical professionals are risking their lives to save people. But of course Trump cannot be held responsible so it is time to blame the victims. After all we voted for Hillary in 2016 so why care if Democrats die. MAGA!

        1. Ron (RC) Weakley (a.k.a., Darryl for a while at EV)

          PGL, Dude. Republicans are willing to kill off even their own supporters if they constitute a liability against the SS trust fund, No new payroll taxes. Also, brown people are as ever fair game. New Yorkers may be the prime victims of the Republican blame game, but low income old people and brown people are victims of the inadequate pandemic response too. The only question is whether all these victims were consciously targeted or merely the convenient collateral damage of unbridled stupidity?

    2. pgl

      “No one knew anything apparently.”

      No one? I guess no one as stupid as you and Donald Trump. But there were a lot of people inside the Federal government who knew. That’s the problem – their boss is almost as clueless as you are.

    3. 2slugbaits

      Bruce Hall

      True to form, you’re playing the old “whataboutism” game. It’s the same play every time. Cuomo was a little slow to respond so somehow that justifies Trump being a lot slower to respond. Trump commits a mortal sin so you point out that some Democrat committed a venial sin…as though they were equivalent. And the really rich part is that here you’re blaming Cuomo for not reacting fast enough, but no one on this blog was more insistent that COVID-19 was much ado about nothing than you were. You’re almost certainly the last person who should be throwing stones. Instead of giving us bullet points about NY’s mistakes, how about writing a mea culpa for you own misjudgments?

      Your Chinatown references are probably irrelevant since the COVID-19 in NYC almost certainly came from travelers returning from Europe, not China. I do agree that Gov. Cuomo was a little slow (about a week too slow) in recognizing and responding to the seriousness of the situation. At the time Cuomo was probably operating under the assumption that the virus got into this country from China and was still a west coast thing. But Cuomo still reacted faster than Trump and he did so without the benefit of a massive bureaucracy chomping at the bit to provide him with PDBs and scary emails. While Trump was claiming that fifteen cases would soon be zero, Cuomo’s hair was on fire.

      You’ve no doubt had plenty of time to reflect on recent events. Have you noticed that you have been consistently wrong on almost every major point? It’s not just the flu. It’s not going away with warm weather. Hydroxychloroquine does not appear to be an effective therapeutic. A little self-reflection might do you some good.

      1. pgl

        Cuomo may have indeed been a little late but his leadership is so much better than Trump’s. Now to this really offensive remark from Bruce that you tagged:

        Your Chinatown references are probably irrelevant since the COVID-19 in NYC almost certainly came from travelers returning from Europe, not China.

        That’s right for my city. Chinese Americans have never been the problem but it is a neat excuse for the racists who think Trump is the 2nd coming of God.

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          pgl: I concur. It is pretty despicable to jump on Chinatown when we do not have evidence that Covid-19 came to NYC from China, but just as likely (if not more) from Europe. But it does fit a certain narrative.

          1. Moses Herzog

            I have been hard on China in some of my comments. I would like to make clear, most of my harsh statements on China have been targeted at the Chinese government, not the people. (if not all, though I have made some, what I consider “scalpel like” or specific comments against some cultural habits about “wet markets”, similar to how I might criticize white trash Americans for pit bull fights and domestic ownership of pit bull dogs, there would be many other examples of course, of bad American habits).

            I like to think this has come across in my comments, but I wanted to especially differentiate my feelings on this, or demarcate my grounds there. What I have read indicates Europe has been a factor here—-and Britain has had a very bad impact on Taiwan via the COVID-19 which also should be noted. I think I saw a really good graphic on this recently which I think is related (though the science is largely above my head) and I will put a link up which I think covers some of this question on the “where”.

          2. Moses Herzog

            OK, this is what I was looking for. I think what Menzie is referring to is the lime green lines (and yellow?? Looks more like pea green in the map). Make sure you spread the “window” of your browser wide over your computer screen, or you’ll miss the important section that has the map on the right hand side. I think this verifies the point about many of the sources of COVID-19 coming to the East USA from Europe instead of China. If you look at the large global map on the right, under the heading “Transmissions” you will see in the upper left corner of that map a light orange colored “Play” button. After the link jump and after you’re sure you’ve widened your browser window across the screen click on the light orange “Play” button.

      2. macroduck

        So Bruce, your whataboutism is OK, since that’s what your first comment amounts to? Just checking. Wanna know how to calibrate my hypocrisy detector.

    4. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Bruce Hall: I will note that I am aware of what could’ve been done, because (1) I’m from Seattle area (incl Kirkland), where (2) both my sisters live, (3) where my mother lives in a care facility (not far from Kirkland), (4) where several of my family members are doctors and are put in harm’s way by the sheer incompetence and recklessness of Mr. Trump.

      For many of us, this issue is life and death come very close to us, and we have paid *very* close attention to policy formulation and implementation for a reason.

      1. Willie

        We seem to be making a bit of progress here. Seattle is bizarre right now, but for good reason. It’s going to be a while before we can let up, in spite of what certain people seem to think.

        1. baffling

          the country owes a lot to to the state of washington and seattle. they were the first to begin the “draconian” measures we now see around the country. i believe that many us universities around the nation led the charge in closing up and going social distancing. this helped to pressure the rest of society to do the same. the state of washington and city of seattle led the academic charge in going online for the semester. that took guts, as they did it alone. but in the process paved the way for the rest of the country to follow suit. the trump administration could learn a few things about leadership in a crisis from our friends out west. thank you.

          1. Willie

            Actually, I’m not sure we are due for that thanks. It took us a while to go all in. I believe California beat us to the line, but at least our governor and the rest of the people in and around the state figured it out quickly. It could have been a whole lot worse. My 83 year old mother lives in an assisted living building. They have had some brushes with it, but the management there are mostly on top of it in a way that has kept it from being a problem. I think places like that really got after it and led the charge once it was clear what was going on. It took a while to understand the threat. It’s always difficult to quickly recognize something you don’t expect to see.

  2. pgl

    Lawler know how to make a sharp analogy. Of course it is not surprising that Trump was unaware of all of this. After all – none of these people went on Fox and Friends which is the only thing Trump bothers to check out each day.

  3. pgl

    Bruce Hall is the kind of fellow who would blame those 340 NY Firemen who gave up their lives on 9/11 when rushing into the twin towers. After all their captains tried to warn them to come down before the towers fell. Of course who knew those outdated radios would not work. Oh wait:


    Can’t blame Rudy Giuliani eh Bruce? Oh wait Rudy is helping you push that snake oil!


  4. pgl

    Maybe we should give Peter Navarro some credit. Didn’t he write a memo as early as January 25 expressing his grave concerns? The earliest Red Dawn memos I see in what you have provided were 3 days later. And Navarro is a close and high placed adviser Trump so he had to notice the Navarro memo – right? Of course when asked about it – Trump recently said he was not aware of what Navarro was saying back in late January. Go figure!

    1. pgl

      Just watched a story on 60 minutes which ended with an interview with Peter Navarro who for some reason reverted back to his stupid notion that the only goods worth buying are made in America. Maybe I gave him credit for sound thinking too soon. This is a global problem that requires a global effort. Not exactly time to advocate those stupid Trump trade wars.

  5. noneconomist

    New Yorkers were likely listening to the renowned scientists who were assuring us all was good and that we had nothing to worry about.
    Dr. Lawrence Kudlow, whose accomplishments precede him , claimed on 2/25 “We have contained this.”
    Dr. Kayleigh McAnaneny was positive same day as Kudlow, that “We will not see diseases like coronavirus come here.”
    Dr. Sean Hannity assured his many viewers 3/9 that Democrats were “bludgeoning Trump with this new hoax.”
    Same day, Dr. Trish Regan warned Foxers of the “coronavirus impeachment scam…”
    And, of course, the most honored of all those with knowledge of the virus, Dr. Donald Trump, was telling us all to chill, that warmer weather would bring relief (2/7), that (2/27) it was going to disappear, that (3/6) not to sweat the testing, anybody who wants or needs a test can get one.
    But, Bruce, apparently, you’re now faulting New Yorkers for actually following the advice of these distinguished men and women whose lives have been devoted to the study of infectious diseases?
    For shame. For sure.

    1. pgl

      If it please his political masters, Bruce Hall would blame those sailors at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 for not getting out of the way of the Japanese attack. Wait – no one warned them ahead of time? Does not matter to the likes of Bruce Hall. Gotta serve the interests of his political master no matter what.

  6. Edward Hanson

    This topic is a question;

    “Who Knew What, When?”

    Greatly surprised no one has answered the question. So as they say, envelope please. And the answer is…

    The Chinese Communist Party in charge of the country of China.

    Whose efforts to suppress knowledge of the disease and its outbreak is responsible for the deaths throughout the world.


    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Ed Hanson: Ah, I see – continuing your endless campaign of disinformation.

      I’ll just say that, despite CCP data suppression, S. Korea and Hong Kong figured out what to do, while Trump golfed.

      1. pgl

        It is a shame that the folks from Hong Kong and South Korea were not guests on Fox and Friends. That is the only way to get Trump’s attention.

      2. Edward Hanson


        Name the disinformation. Because it seems that you are denying the Communist Chinese government suppressed and concealed knowledge of the important facets of the disease. Are you also denying that the communist government officials exerted pressure on the few courageous Chinese doctors who attempted to release information early on?

        As for Hong Kong and Korea. Good for them. Would it surprise me that they have better intelligence capabilities when it comes to Communist China? Not at all. And does it surprise me that countries with greatly smaller populations can control such outbreaks? Not at all. And again, good for them.

        Next question for you. When President Trump made the early and politically courageous determination to stop air traffic from China, what was your position on that move? Did agree with President Trump, or did you side with the democrat party and call it exceedingly unnecessary and xenophobic?

        I’ll stop asking questions that I assume that you will avoid answering, to give you time.


        1. 2slugbaits

          Ed Hanson You’re arguing with a straw man and then patting yourself on the back for a resounding victory. No one is disputing that early on the Chinese govt tried to downplay the severity of the virus. That’s a predictable response from any government. No political leader wants to risk mass panic and severe economic costs, so it’s no surprise that there is an inherent bias against facing the facts. Inertia applies to the political world as well as the physical world. But none of that is relevant to Trump’s inaction. By the time Trump got around to recognizing there was a problem the Chinese government had long since woken up to reality. Only Donald Trump was still asleep at the switch.

          President Trump made the early and politically courageous determination to stop air traffic

          This is simply dishonest and based on Trump’s repeated lies that he bravely stood alone. Trump’s suspension of air travel with China was a dead letter because all of the major airlines had already suspended flights to China on their own. Trump’s suspension order made no practical difference whatsoever. And no one of any consequence was opposed to Trump suspending air travel to China. As factcheck.org reported, this is simply yet another Trump lie. There were some experts who testified in Congress that they didn’t think a travel ban against one country would be particularly effective (which it wasn’t since most of the COVID-19 cases have come from Europe, not China), but no one of any consequence actually opposed his decision.
          But Trump has this psychological need to believe that he’s a man of deep courage standing tall against all odds. It’s part of his narcissism. He just invents battles that never happened. And his true believers are too uninformed to know better, so they believe whatever Dear Leader says.

          1. baffling

            “No one is disputing that early on the Chinese govt tried to downplay the severity of the virus.”
            2slugs, i would like to point out to ed that this is EXACTLY what trump did early on-downplay the virus. apparently it is a sin for the chinese, but acceptable for the president? kind of a weird world ed lives in.

            china is not forthright with the usa, after the way trump has treated china for the past few years, and ed wonders why? seriously ed, are you that stoooopid? and yet trump can lie directly to the american people on the severity of the virus, and ed washes that away as cheerleading. what a moron.

            i will point out that the argument china did not share the severity of the virus is false. i was receiving reports from china before the end of january as to the significance of what was possibly occurring. i would find it odd that i had better intelligence than our own agencies. trump knew what what happening as well, he simply dropped the ball because he is a poor leader. trump should have ramped up testing capability starting in mid january. he did not want to consider it.

        2. pgl

          “As for Hong Kong and Korea. Good for them. Would it surprise me that they have better intelligence capabilities when it comes to Communist China? Not at all.”

          Well duh Ed. We used to have a great intel system until that moron you support as President ran it in the ground. So your defense of his latest incompetency is that the intel system he destroyed is now inadequate? OK!

          ‘And does it surprise me that countries with greatly smaller populations can control such outbreaks?’

          Try outbreaks per capita and we still had much more. And they have population per square mile that rivals even New York City. OK I get wearing a MAGA hat all day tends to destroy critical thinking skills but stop making it so damn obvious.

        1. pgl

          Ed knows why. It seems Taiwan has a superior intelligence community that we do after Trump has done everything he could to destroy ours!

    2. pgl

      Earth to Ed? The Red Dawn memos show a lot of people in our government knew as of late January. Heck – Peter Navarro even wrote his January 25 memo. So he knew. But Trump as of early March was still denying there would be any problem. I guess we need to get Ed a reliable calendar and then teach him how to read it.

    3. Willie

      And then subsequently, your orange hero made it worse. Two wrongs, one by Trumph, make Trump right. Got it.

  7. joseph

    “Maybe we should give Peter Navarro some credit. Didn’t he write a memo as early as January 25 expressing his grave concerns?”

    No, Navarro is a sociopathic opportunistic who took the threat of an epidemic to beat his same old drum about “Death by China.” He wanted to close off China, but that did absolutely nothing for New York and the rest of the east coast. Tracing indicates that almost all of the east coast infections came from Europe. Navarro wasn’t doing anything new that he hasn’t done for the last three years, looking for yet another way to beat up on China.

    Don’t forget that Navarro was stating in on TV that “Americans have nothing to worry about” because of “the beautiful job under Trump’s leadership” at the very same time he was supposedly writing his private memos to Trump.

    1. pgl

      I wrote my comment before I watched Navarro on 60 Minutes. Your reply is spot on as what he said in that interview was beyond disgusting.

  8. baffling

    just curious bruce, why shouldn’t new york rely on the federal government when attempting to assess a national and international risk? should all 50 states have their own cdc with representatives stationed throughout the world, assessing the risk of biological outbreaks? to me, preparation against a biological risk falls under the category of national defense. last i heard, viruses don’t need passports to enter a country, and can cross any state boundary without being stopped and frisked. bruce, i really am not sure why you would lay this responsibility onto the states. very odd position you have taken, once again. and continue to avoid taking responsibility for your “just a flu” take on the coronavirus epidemic.

    1. pgl

      Trump wanted the states to take all responsibility for getting the PPE, ventilators, testing, and even mitigation efforts as he has decided he is not responsible for any of that. Bruce Hall takes this to an extreme – the Federal government has no responsibility to let the states know what our Federal experts knew even in January. Go figure.

      But as far as getting people back to work quickly – Trump has decided that he and only he is in charge now. What a guy (cough, cough)!

  9. Edward Hanson


    Why did you not post my reply challenging you to back up your contention;

    Ed Hanson: Ah, I see – continuing your endless campaign of disinformation.

    Can’t take a stand?


    1. pgl

      Taking a principled stand is fine. But you are a lot like Trump – lie every second of every day.

  10. Edward Hanson


    Opps found the reply still waiting for moderation after 24 hours. Looking forward to your reply.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Ed Hanson: Gee, you don’t reply to tons of stuff I ask you about… well, once I get my lessons recorded, and read over pending PhD defense cases, I’ll come back to you (i.e., some of us have day jobs).

      1. Edward Hanson


        Perhaps I did not make myself clear. The time it takes is yours, and I will wait for answers, although Adlai Stevenson would probably disagree with me.

        But you might answer this question quickly since you obviously already did the research. You wrote, “while Trump golfed.” Obviously with your busy life you were not there playing golf with him, so you must have accepted someone else for the information. So the questions are, who is the someone else, what was the date of the golf outing, and who he played golf with? And perhaps you might add how it impacted the crisis.

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