Mar 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Road not taken: Trump administration didn't use pandemic "playbook" for coronavirus

President Donald Trump

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Trump administration did not follow a National Security Council "playbook" detailing how the federal government should respond to global pandemics, Politico's Dan Diamond and Nahal Toosi report.

Why it matters: Based on recommendations from the document, the government should have started gathering personal protective equipment like masks and gloves at least two months ago in preparation for coronavirus.

  • "You often hear government officials say 'there's no playbook for dealing with this.' Except, in the case of this pandemic, there *was* a playbook -- literally, a secretive NSC document with 'PLAYBOOK' stamped on it," Politico's Tim Alberta tweeted.
  • The Trump administration, state governments and hospitals are currently scrambling to find personal protection equipment for health workers on the front lines of the pandemic and patients with severe symptoms.

The big picture: Civil servants wrote the playbook after the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak to ensure that the response to the next epidemic was handled better.

Via Politico

The Trump administration was briefed on the playbook 2017, according to Politico, but it was never fully adopted as strategy.

What they're saying: "We are aware of the document, although it's quite dated and has been superseded by strategic and operational biodefense policies published since," a NSC official told Politico.

  • "The plan we are executing now is a better fit, more detailed, and applies the relevant lessons learned from the playbook and the most recent Ebola epidemic in the [Democratic Republic of the Congo] to COVID-19.”

Read the 69-page playbook on fighting pandemics

Go deeper: Dangerous backlog: Coronavirus results can take a week or more

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