In that key early period, many of the Trump presidency’s most deeply ingrained characteristics — its distrust of the federal bureaucracy, internal personality conflicts, lack of a formal policymaking process and Trump’s own insistence on controlling the public message — severely hampered the federal response, according to current and former White House officials and public health experts.

Even senior members of the administration who sought to warn Trump about the looming dangers were rebuffed, said several administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on internal discussions…

Weeks were lost that could have been used to test and isolate the first infected patients, purchase medical supplies, prepare makeshift hospitals and enlist corporations in quickly ramping up production of badly needed respirators and other supplies.

“In an ideal world, there would have been a structure and someone with vision empowered in the White House,” said J. Stephen Morrison, a health policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. “Everything was seen through the impeachment and reelection process.”