Take the CDC. Responsible for alerting the National Security Council to a potentially deadly pathogen that could strike the heart of the United States, the organisation is one of the federal government’s most important players when an epidemic or disease hits the land. CDC officials understood the gravity of the coronavirus relatively early, particularly as the agency observed the Chinese government’s extreme mitigation efforts in the city of Wuhan. But despite the early warnings, there was an institutional bias in the CDC against ceding power to the health labs in the private sector that could help develop testing kits. The CDC arrogantly convinced itself that it could control the testing and thus dismissed entreaties from private universities and researchers. The result: the release of a diagnostic testing kit that was inaccurate. Private labs were finally approved to develop their own alternatives a day after the disease claimed its first American.
Or take the bureaucratic machinery. On Sunday morning, April 5, the AP reported that the administration essentially sat on its hands and allowed the Strategic National Stockpile to deplete. The first confirmed case of the coronavirus on U.S. soil occurred on January 21. Yet the federal government didn’t bulk order the masks, ventilators, gloves, and gowns America’s health care professionals needed until mid-March. By that time, the virus was already spreading across the country—effectively shutting turning New York City from a vibrant, bustling metropolis into a ghost town—and doctors and nurses were rationing ventilators and sowing their own masks at home.