Are We "Very, Very Ready for the Coronavirus, for Anything"?

Mish

In his address tonight on the coronavirus, President Trump says we are "Very, very ready for this, for anything."

Administration defends its handling of the outbreak as lawmakers say more money is needed beyond the president’s $2.5 billion spending plan.

The Wall Street Journal reports President Trump Puts Vice President Pence In Charge of Virus Response.

President Trump said the risk to Americans from coronavirus remains very low, and he put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of federal response efforts as concern about the outbreak grew among lawmakers and as cities nationwide made fresh preparations.

On Capitol Hill, leaders from both parties said they would seek billions of dollars in emergency spending beyond the $2.5 billion plan President Trump has proposed.

“’We’re very, very ready for this, for anything, whether it is going to be a breakout of larger proportions or whether or not we’re at that very low level,” Mr. Trump said at an hourlong White House briefing surrounded by administration health officials and the vice president. “Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low.”

The fast-moving developments came a day after a top CDC official, Nancy Messonnier, warned businesses, schools and communities to plan for potential outbreaks. Mr. Trump, who has sought to project confidence that the number of cases in the U.S. will be contained, was angered by the tone of the remarks, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

U.S. stocks fell for the fifth consecutive session Wednesday as investors continued to assess the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the U.S. should expect more coronavirus cases, and Mr. Trump called on schools to prepare “just in case.” He said he didn’t think it was inevitable that the virus would spread across the U.S.

“This will end,” Mr. Trump said.

This Will End, But Questions Remain

  1. When?
  2. How?
  3. Will it return in the fall if it ends soon?
  4. How many will get seriously ill?
  5. How many will die?
  6. What's the economic impact?

Exaggerating the Threat

Some Republicans, including Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Mitt Romney of Utah, have joined Democrats in calling for a czar to supervise operations.

Mr. Azar has faced criticism for his handling of the U.S. response to the virus and has butted heads with some administration officials, according to people familiar with the matter. A former drug company executive who has worked on disease outbreaks as an HHS official in the George W. Bush administration, Mr. Azar was doing a “fantastic job,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump, who returned Wednesday morning from a trip to India, has accused Democrats and the media of exaggerating the threat.

Clearly, Trump does not understand pandemics.

It's unclear if Trump will benefit if there is no serious outbreak in the US. However, if things escalate, it is clear he will get slammed.

Prepared for Anything?

It is impossible to be prepared for "anything".

For example, are we prepared for a nuclear suitcase bomb? A massive solar flare that would shut down all communication?

Even if there is no serious outbreak in the US, Trump made a very reckless set of statements.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (103)
Stuki
Stuki

“Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low.”

Yeah, dude. Because of all we've done.......

If "we" hadn't "done" all that (what exactly???), the risk would have been so much greater!

Not that these clowns are competent enough to do anything of value even if they did try, but man, talk about delusions of grandeur and having an exalted opinion of your own importance in this world....

No. 1-40
Advancingtime
Advancingtime

The effort to mask the danger of the coronavirus from the American people may be in play to protect Trump's all-important stock market rally. This can be seen by what appears an attempt to deny the threat of how easily and rapidly this often deadly virus can spread. The article below questions if the economy and politics are pushing common sense aside.

abend237-04
abend237-04

I believe the tale will be told by the actual Wuhan numbers in the coming two weeks. If they can't stop it there, in a dictatorship, the odds of us doing it here in an open society are nil.
All the models I've seen look suspiciously like our climate models, floating double point precision of wild-assed guesses.
If I can believe the data, roughly one half of one percent of those deemed critical outside China are now dying per day. That's not a China lie; this damn thing kills, and we've only had 17 years to prepare. We pissed it away.

sangell
sangell

Just the setting showed the President, top government officials from CDC and NIH and the media have no understanding of what the problem is. The virus is in the USA yet here are the medical, political and media elites crowded together in a small room in the White House. Hello!. May as well has the press conference on board the Diamond Princess for all the Public Health protocols they were violating yet both the President and Vice President were within a 'cough' or sneeze of anyone in the room. What the hell is going on. Can they be this retarded?

Greggg
Greggg

Pence?

Dodge Demon
Dodge Demon

Hi Mish. Any ideas for put options? Travel, hospitality, supply chain impaired manufacturers, retail stores, banks? Thx

bradw2k
bradw2k

What should he have said in a statement to the nation? "Everybody freak out! Sell your stocks, horde Campbell's soup, and fight over the last package of N95's at Home Depot!" I don't see his statements as reckless. There's nothing much the US public can do now but cancel your spring break trip to Japan and wait and see if/when there's an outbreak in your town. People do have brains. As do local governments (well, it's a rumor).

Tengen
Tengen

The US is obviously in bad shape if the virus takes off here, hospital visits are prohibitively expensive for many. Add in that many people are a missed paycheck away from oblivion, and a lot of people are incentivized to go out in public and hope for the best even if they suspect infection. Krieger put up a good Miami Herald article about a guy who got tested after visiting China over a month ago:

sangell
sangell

I see no evidence that people have 'brains'. There is a virus HERE and we have no way to fight it. China has been using positively medieval methods to prevent it spreading but its all over the world now. It is here.

They tried sealing up the population of a city bigger than any in the USA and using brutal tactics to enforce the quarantine. Try that in Tokyo or Los Angeles...! It hasn't worked.

Carnival still is advertising cruises and airlines are still flying. I almost threw up to hear, this morning, that a Korean airliner landed in LAX with an infected stewardess amongst the cabin crew. KAL knew it before the aircraft took off but, hey, whaddya gonna do? The company needs the revenue so they send a biological weapon to California.

njbr
njbr

The hospital asked CDC for testing on the already very sick California patient a week ago last Wednesday and was refused until Sunday, when the test was made and the result given this afternoon. It's contained if you don't test for it.

thimk
thimk

its all a ruse to protect the much vaunted reelection stock market . Notice how the Trumpster shifted culpability to Pence ; the fall guy. My god we don't even have a reliable, affordable, accessible test for this man made malady . This virus possesses ungodlike like characteristics . Its ironical the CB's adopted a "what ever it takes" attitude to save the financial markets but "what ever it takes" doesn't apply to the well being of individuals. No global integrated action plan/procedures/policies forth coming. It's just considered a blip on the radar screen. Make that a double bartender .

Carl_R
Carl_R

Trump had the high ground. All he had to do was to act Presidential, and say something like "Coronavirus is a global threat. We take coronavirus very seriously, and we are devoting as much effort to fighting it as possible. So far it it contained in the US, but it is an ongoing risk. I am very concerned for all the people who could be at risk if this begins spreading in the US. I have asked Congress for additional funds to fight this threat. It it time for an end to partisanship, and we need to all work together, and then our country will emerge stronger, regardless of what happens."

With a statement like that, he wins either way. If corona doesn't cause large number of deaths in the US, it was because of his strong response. If it does, it was despite his efforts, and the resulting recession was not something he could have prevented or be blamed for. Either way, his re-election would have been almost certain.

Instead he downplayed it. Now instead of a win-win scenario he is in a lose-lose situation. In the more likely case, corona does create problems for the US economy, not only can he not win, Republicans will be wiped out in Congress as well. Expect Sanders to be elected, and to have a better than 2/3 majority in both houses. In the less likely scenario, it is contained and never becomes an issue in the US. In that case, coronavirus is forgotten, and ceases to be a factor. Even though he was right, he gets no credit because the supply disruption in China causes a recession anyway, which he gets blamed for, and he loses the election that way, too, though the Republicans end up perhaps holding the Senate.

Without question, this was the worst political move I have ever seen at any level. He had a winning hand, and he folded and accepted defeat.

I think there is no way to keep Coronavirus from spreading in the US. There is just too much travel. I talked to four customers today. I'm in a relatively small town in the middle of nowhere. One had just returned from Africa. Another was headed to Mexico for a cruise. Another was on his way to Germany. Still another was headed to Israel on Friday. This is going on in every city in America. Coronavirus will be here sooner, rather than later, and Trump, and the Republicans will pay a heavy, heavy price for his incredibly ill-advised speech tonight. The stock market will probably rally for a couple days, though. I hope it was worth it to him.

3 Replies

CautiousObserver
CautiousObserver

Yep. President Trump put his head on the political chopping block for no good reason. If uncontrolled outbreaks start appearing in the US, Democrats are going to play that clip where he claims to have stopped the virus again and again and again. It will be their primary campaign message.

jeco
jeco

great assessment, his corona experts will be dropping like flies as US outbreaks occur, Pemce is obvious fall guy but can't be fired, replace him with greater fool on ticket. Every democratic gov and mayor with local outbreak will be blamed

Jared's survival instinct obviously kicked in

Irondoor
Irondoor

The stock market futures started falling during the speech and are down 350 this AM. You can’t fool the market.

Rbm
Rbm

Everyones talking about supply chains and such. Cant get people back to work. Worried about the stock market etc. their seems to be less concerns about actual people. (Getting food supplies etc)if it goes big. We live in a country where a good chunk of people live pay check to pay check and a 500$ medical bill will sink them. Whats missing say two weeks of work because schools, daycare or work is closed gonna do to the economy. The fed lowering rates is not gonna help them.

tokidoki
tokidoki
  1. The virus originated in China. When it's appropriate later on, Trump will throw Xi under the bus. And his followers will eat the whole thing, hook line and sinker.
  2. The CDC will only test under very strict scenarios. In fact it's almost certain that somebody broke protocol this week, otherwise the first person to person transmission in California will not be detected. If you don't test, you won't ever have any issues. That's why Trump could make such grand statements.
tokidoki
tokidoki

As the Silicon Valley folks will say, "don't worry there will soon be an app for that"

Marketwatchfuture
Marketwatchfuture

Just BTFD!!!

Jackula
Jackula

Its amazing how unbelievably slipshod the US government response to this has been. Without even discussing the human carnage the supply chain disruptions will be legendary, globalisation will be rethought, and the market repricing of assets will vaporize a lot of wealth. Historic!

riten
riten

It is obvious that president, along with masses do not understand biology...or may be they are playing Dumb and confident. We cannot produce enough masks, medicines, hospitals...the list is endless. We are shamefully ill-prepared. It seems that stock valuations are more important than human lives.

crazyworld
crazyworld

WHY THE CHINESE PRESIDENT CALLED THIS VERY VIRUS A "DEVIL'

We have now sufficient datas which prove that this corona RETRO virus has some special proteins allowing it to enter silently in cells of healthy peoples (probably 80 per cent of the population). They remain asymptomatic for a long period and are able to transmit it unknowingly to others.
I assume now that there are thousands of such asymptomatic bearers spreaders in every country because population travels are still incredibly maintained at a high level worldwide.
What is needed to detect this silent infection is the advent of suspected death case, hospital visits which happen when less healthy peoples are in contact with these spreaders. When the country like Italy or Korea start to retro investigate then they find hundreds of bearers in a very short period of time.
Furthermore the so called cured people are more and more showing proofs that the virus may remain hidden (like HIV when treated, or HERPEX SIMPLEX, Cytomegalovirus... ) in niches.
So either we stop every population contacts like in Wuhan has done and we probably will reduce dramatically the speed of infection or we consider it as a severe flu which will in less than a month overwhelm the hospitals everywhere.
The third solution would be to find a remedy (vaccine or drug) very soon which without confinements would help the medical system not to be overwhelmed.

crazyworld
crazyworld

So to conclude, in absence of an efficient remedy, there is a very high probability that everyone on earth will very quickly "test" this virus.

kram
kram

Though a little out of context, does anyone wonder why, having the second largest population in the world there are only 3 declared cases in India? I believe that official action is restricted to people coming to hospitals with the disease and does not include the Govt actively going out to detect and handle the disease in the wild. Looking forward to opinion on this view.

Sechel
Sechel

Trump fired the U.S. Pandemic team in 2018. You tell me if we're prepared?

One of John Bolton’s first acts upon becoming national security adviser in 2018 was to dismiss the NSC’s global health team led by Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, a widely respected public-health expert. This is not a capability you just get back in 24 hours.

It's an understatement to say Trump is not a man of science. Listening to him its clear he doesn't understand pandemics. To be ready for a pandemic requires plans that have continually been put in place and drills run yet Trump reduced staff at the CDC and health and human services greatly compromising national security. I wrote above how he fired the NSC team that was tasked with leading such an effort.

Trump for two years has decided he'd place political security above national security. Now we have to hope we get lucky and have enough competent people left to get the job done. We're far less prepared for a Corona virus than we were just two years ago.

jeco
jeco

Domestic travel is going to follow international travel into a virtual lockdown. What will Trump do to save his overextended hotel empire? Thats Job #1.

Who's going to be doing pleasure travel as the whole world drifts into a semi quarantine state. Cruise lines, airlines, pro sports leagues, Japan olympics.

Industrywide bailouts are coming - starting with the banks, travel industry, autos - use your imagination

mrutkaus
mrutkaus

He seemed to me to be the very model of a modern major-general.

Facts only
Facts only

There is now a confirmed case of a lady in Japan being reinfected after recovering from the virus weeks ago.

Sechel
Sechel

“The president was contradicted almost in real time by ... experts who flanked him....

‘’’We could be just one or two people....’ Trump said....

“‘We can expect to see more cases in the United States,’ [HHS Sec.] Azar said.

“‘We do expect more cases,’ Schuchat [of CDC] said.”

zurtkz
zurtkz

Anyone remember the governments response efforts to Hurricane Katrina, The Horizon Deep Water Spill and recently Puerto Rico? Pathetic...Inept and lacking in any sense of humanity. The Feds don't have anyone's back, prepare accordingly.

Ken Kam
Ken Kam

It does seem that readers on this blog are losing a sense of proportion at least a wee bit. Of course the Covid-19 is a dangerous bug. But is the world coming to an end? No. A few thousand people may die, some millions will get sick and recover. I don't mean to diminish the human tragedy that entails, but is that new? Worse events have occured throughout history. Life goes on. People always die, sometimes even those near and dear. That doesn't mean we all go into a panic and start the blame game. Remember the 'world will end' fear when SARS broke out? Oh, and defintely we're all going to die from Ebola? What happened eventually?
Humans are resilient, societies are resilient, nations are resilient. Sure, as individuals we should all take precautions and be prepared. But this is a virus. It's nature doing its thing. As the world gets more crowded and connected such incidents are more likely; that is an inevitable result of modern life. Let's not blame bureaucrats and politicians. We know that humans have not found a way to defeat viruses yet. Each of us has to pray that our immune system will scrape through. Other than that, just get on with life.

egilkinc
egilkinc

Ready all right - with tens of millions of rounds of ammo to enforce the quarantines.

Carl_R
Carl_R

For those that think the selloff is overdone, I have but one question. The stock market is currently about the same place it was on December 1. In what ways is the stock market today, and the global economy today, in better shape than it was on December 1?

njbr
njbr

The current reading on the Diamond Princess is 705 cases. 4 deaths. 36 in "serious condition". 10 reported as "recovered".

A couple of comments. This was in the face of an admittedly flawed quarantine so about 20% of people in quarantine contracted the illness. And of those who contracted the illness, about 1/2% died. Including the 4 that died, almost 6% of the cases pass through a stage classified as "serious".

This is the most closely watched population, measured and treated with high quality, quick medical response.

Take from that data what you will, but I see that limiting the amount of exposure is needed to slow the virus down.

Roadrunner12
Roadrunner12

"The new coronavirus is spreading in more countries and is likely to be declared a pandemic in the coming days, prompting infectious disease experts to say Canada must take immediate steps to ensure the country is ready to handle it."

ksdude69
ksdude69

I read this is 1000x as infectious as SARS. If you've been around it......you're likely to get it. This stuff is just too perfect, imo, I don't think it's natural.

At our quarterly yesterday our big guy exclaims "there's no doubt coronavirus has slowed things down since we're an exporter BUT I was talking with some of our other managers and the consensus is this is going to blow over in 2-3 months and then it will be business as usual".

LMAO! So I work with a bunch of bio-experts I wasn't aware. Business types think they can chart/graph and control absolutely everything. I am usually at constant odds with the crap that rolls out of their mouths but this time I just sat there in disbelief.

Zardoz
Zardoz

Funny how eventually the constant lying of the president can lead to serious problems. I don’t like Bernie’s plans, but at least I know what they are... and I’m tired that obese orange creep lying to me. Will be voting democrat for the first time in my life just to get the nuclear football away from this moron.

markonmish
markonmish

Mr. Azar is a former CEO of Eli Lilly. By all accounts Mr. Azar is a very bright individual. The issue, as I see it, is the potentially incestuous relationship between "big pharma" and government offices like the FDA and CDC.
This is, admittedly, a good-news bad-news situation, in that the people in charge have perspective from both the public and private sectors. In Mr. Azar's defense, his education and "Supreme Court" experience are a definite plus.

Sechel
Sechel

Despite the moves to assuage concerns like selecting Debbie Birx, health experts and Democratic lawmakers panned the choice of Mr Pence to co-ordinate the government’s response, given the former Indiana governor’s record of scepticism towards established medical science on issues ranging from tobacco to HIV.

WildBull
WildBull

No one is prepared for this. It is not possible or prudent to have 10x excess inventory in storage for a once per century event. Especially when no one knows just what the features of the event will be. The pols are engaging in CYA in the face of an unstoppable plague. If you're worried, or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout! Stay healthy!

Sechel
Sechel

couldn't help notice that the white house reponse is headed by pence, mnuchin and kudlow. trump seems to be worried more about his political exposure than the nation's health exposure. Trump has also silenced federal scientists from speaking to the press in effect putting out a gag order. this is not how you deal with a crisis. sounds like no transparency. don't see how the nation gains any confidence. we have the makings of a china wuhan response in the making

ColoradoAccountant
ColoradoAccountant


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