But a detailed review of the 10-day period from late January, when Trump was first warned about the scale of the threat, and early February — when he admitted to author Bob Woodward that he was purposely downplaying the virus — reveals a president who took relatively few serious measures to ready the nation for the its arrival.
Instead, enabled by top administration officials, Trump largely attempted to pretend the virus did not exist — spending much of his time distracted by impeachment and exacting vengeance on his political enemies. He also carried on as usual with showy political gatherings and crowded White House events…
But behind the scenes that same day, Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro wrote a memo offering a much grimmer assessment, warning that the virus could evolve “into a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.” It is unclear whether Trump ever saw that memo and others, and several White House aides dismissed the warnings from Navarro because of his broader antipathy toward China, where the virus originated.
That Thursday, Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency, and the first human-to-human transmission of the virus was documented in the United States — a couple in their 60s, living in Chicago. But speaking at a trade event in Warren, Mich., Trump devoted scant attention to the issue.