Jan. 14: The WHO announces, “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in Wuhan, China.” Meanwhile, according to The Associated Press, internal Chinese documents show that government officials acknowledged likely human-to-human transmission of coronavirus, and said they were following orders from the president of China to keep it under wraps.
Jan. 17: The CDC and the Department of Homeland Security announce that travelers into the U.S. from Wuhan will undergo new screening at several major airports.
Jan. 19: The WHO hedges somewhat: “Not enough is known to draw definitive conclusions about how it is transmitted, the clinical features of the disease, the extent to which it has spread, or its source, which remains unknown.”
Jan. 23: Vox publishes an article stating that travel bans to fight viruses “don’t work.” The article initially referred to the “Wuhan coronavirus,” before being edited weeks later. The article’s URL remains unchanged.
China seals off Wuhan, canceling plane, train and bus travel.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says in a Journal of the American Medical Association podcast that the U.S. wouldn’t implement shutdowns of cities like what was occurring in China: “There’s no chance in the world that we could do that to Chicago or to New York or to San Francisco, but they’re doing it. So, let’s see what happens.”
Jan. 24: Politico reports that the Trump administration held a briefing on the coronavirus for senators, but it was “sparsely attended” in part because it “was held on the same day as a deadline for senators to submit their impeachment questions.”
“The initial thought from the Dems, I think, is that we were trying to distract from impeachment,” a GOP Senate aide told Politico. The outlet added that a White House official “recalled feeling surprised at the ‘incredibly’ poor attendance, noting that it came ‘even though the amount of concern expressed then was rather intense.'”
Jan. 26: “The American people should not be worried or frightened by this. It’s a very, very low risk to the United States,” Fauci says on The CATS Roundtable. “It isn’t something that the American public needs to worry about or be frightened about.”
Jan. 27: The Biden campaign, including its top coronavirus adviser Ron Klain, praise China for being “transparent” and “candid.” Speaking to Axios, Klain asserts: “I think what you’d have to say about China is, it’s been more transparent and more candid than it has been during past outbreaks, though still there’s problems with transparency and candor.” Even as he says there were “many” areas in which China hasn’t been transparent, Klain asserts that China had helpfully released a “sequence of the virus.” Klain goes on to say there isn’t “any reason” for anyone to postpone essential travel to anywhere except the Wuhan area.
Jan. 28: Three days before Trump closes off most travel from China, Klain says he opposes that measure.
Jan. 30: The WHO declares a global health emergency, and the State Department issues advisories against traveling to China.
Jan. 31: Trump issues the “Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus.” Later in the day, Biden campaigns in Iowa and tells the crowd that Americans “need to have a president who they can trust what he says about it, that he is going to act rationally about it. … This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia – hysterical xenophobia – and fearmongering to lead the way instead of science.”
Also in the wake of the ban on Jan. 31:
- An article in The New York Times quotes epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm as saying that Trump’s decision to restrict travel from China was “more of an emotional or political reaction.”
- The Washington Post runs a story quoting a Chinese official asking for “empathy” and slamming the White House for acting “in disregard of WHO recommendation against travel restrictions.”
- Vox tweets: “Is this going to be a deadly pandemic? No.” The tweet was deleted weeks later.
- Canada’s health minister Patty Hajdu, who would later say there was no reason to doubt Chinese coronavirus data, says the risk of the virus is “low” and that early-warning systems are working “exactly as they should.” The “spread of the disease is contained,” Hajdu claimed.
NOTE: HERE COMES THE PIVOT TO ORANGE MAN RACIST
Feb. 2: “There’s a virus that has infected 15 million Americans across the country and killed more than 8,200 people this season alone,” CNN tweets. “It’s not a new pandemic — it’s influenza.”
New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot tweets: “As we gear up to celebrate the #LunarNewYear in NYC, I want to assure New Yorkers that there is no reason for anyone to change their holiday plans, avoid the subway, or certain parts of the city because of #coronavirus.”
Feb. 5: The Senate acquits Trump on two counts of impeachment, in a widely expected result that dominated journalists’ and politicians’ attention for months.
Feb. 7: Barbot strikes again, assuring residents, “We’re telling New Yorkers, go about your lives, take the subway, go out, enjoy life.” City lawmakers have called for Barbot to be fired because of the comments.
Feb. 9: Mark Levine, the chair of New York City Council health committee and a Democrat, tweets: “In powerful show of defiance of #coronavirus scare, huge crowds gathering in NYC’s Chinatown for ceremony ahead of annual #LunarNewYear parade. Chants of ‘be strong Wuhan!’ If you are staying away, you are missing out!”
Feb. 13: “There are ZERO confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York City, and hundreds of Chinese restaurants that need your business!” the New York City mayor’s office tweets. “There is nothing to fear. Stop by any Chinatown for lunch or dinner!”
Feb. 17: Fauci announces that the risk of coronavirus infection in the U.S. is “miniscule,” according to USA Today. Fauci, one of the top experts (COUGH) in the field and a senior White House coronavirus adviser, also told the paper that people shouldn’t wear masks unless they are contagious. (By April 3, Fauci appeared to endorse national stay-at-home orders.)
Feb. 18: In remarks at Joint Base Andrews, Trump states: “I think President Xi is working very hard. As you know, I spoke with him recently. He’s working really hard. It’s a tough problem. I think he’s going to do — look, I’ve seen them build hospitals in a short period of time. I really believe he wants to get that done, and he wants to get it done fast. Yes, I think he’s doing it very professionally. We’re also working with him and helping him, as of the last few days, as you know.” Pressed on whether he trusted China’s coronavirus data, Trump responds, “Look, I know this: President Xi loves the people of China, he loves his country, and he’s doing a very good job with a very, very tough situation.”
Feb. 24: “It’s exciting to be here, especially at this time, to be able to be unified with our community,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tells reporters as she visits San Francisco’s Chinatown. “We want to be vigilant about what is out there in other places. We want to be careful about how we deal with it, but we do want to say to people ‘Come to Chinatown, here we are — we’re, again, careful, safe — and come join us.’”
Also on Feb. 24, the White House submits a request to Congress for $2.5 billion in supplemental spending to help combat the coronavirus outbreak. The request includes $1.25 billion in new money, with the rest coming from unspent funds.
Mar. 2: “Since I’m encouraging New Yorkers to go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus, I thought I would offer some suggestions,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweets.
UM, YEAH. MARCH 2nd. GET OUT ON THE TOWN, Y’ALL. TWEET STILL NOT DELETED:
Mar. 4: Barbot, the top New York City health official, declares, “There’s no indication that being in a car, being in the subways with someone who’s potentially sick is a risk factor.”
On CNN, Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta downplay the virus.
“The flu right now is far deadlier,” Cooper says. “So if you’re freaked out at all about the coronavirus you should be more concerned about the flu, and you can actually do something about it, and get a flu shot.”
Mar. 9: At a Fox News town hall, Bernie Sanders says he would not close the border, even if it were necessary to halt the spread of coronavirus. He then attacked Trump’s “xenophobia.”
Also on this day, Fauci remarks that going to campaign rallies may not be a bad idea: “You know, I can’t comment on campaign rallies. It really depends. We are having as we all said — this is something in motion. This is an evolving thing. So I’m not sure what we’re going to be able to say at the time we’re going to have a campaign rally. If you’re talking about a campaign rally tomorrow, in a place where there is no community spread, I think the judgment to have it might be a good judgment. [But] if you want to talk about large gatherings in a place you have community spread, I think that’s a judgment call, and if someone decides they want to cancel it, I wouldn’t publicly criticize them.”
Now ask yourself, dear reader, what exactly happened beginning March 10th, such that we completely closed down the country three days later? What could have happened? Getting the feeling that gaslighting might be involved? Are you getting mad enough to actually take five minutes and write to your governor, congressman, and senators? It won’t do any good, but at least you will have done it.