'Absolute Clusterf-k': Inside the Denial and Dysfunction of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force - 2020-04-13
On February 24th, Dr. Duane Caneva, the chief medical officer at the Department of Homeland Security, sent an urgent email with the subject line "Red Dawn Breaking Bad" to a small group of doctors, epidemiologists, public-health officials, and pandemic experts. For more than a month, the scientists on the email chain had been tracking a deadly new virus that was ripping its way through Southeast Asia.
The people on the Red Dawn email chain ranged from local health officials in Texas and California to senior-level doctors at the U.S. Army, the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the State Department. Some of them had worked together in the White House in the mid-2000s. They had helped write President Bush's 2007 national strategic plan for a flu pandemic and had advised President Obama on his response to the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. (The Red Dawn title was an inside joke referring to the 1984 B movie in which the Soviet Union invades America.)
By late February, the sense of alarm in the emails was palpable, as new coronavirus cases were reported in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, and Italy. One of the White House veterans on the chain was a pandemic expert named Dr. Carter Mecher, who is now a senior adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mecher got into the habit of waking up at 4:30 a.m. and combing the internet for data to help him understand this new virus and what might happen if it made it to America.