“That briefing was chilling to me,” Murphy recalled about the Feb. 5 meeting. “It was crystal clear that the administration was not taking this seriously.” As it happens, Murphy tweeted this at the time too, which shows this isn’t just convenient hindsight talking.
Murphy told me that in that briefing — which was attended by two leading officials, Anthony S. Fauci and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar — numerous lawmakers demanded to know why the administration wasn’t asking Congress for funding for medical supplies.
“Their position was that this wasn’t the moment to start panicking, staffing up and buying supplies,” Murphy continued.
Crucially, several lawmakers were already telling administration officials that “our local public health systems were fundamentally just not ready,” Murphy told me. “States were beginning to grapple with some of the most thorny questions, and it was clear the administration didn’t understand the scope of what was going to be necessary.”