Trump administration contingency planning for coronavirus lasting ’18 months or longer’
Health care workers are putting themselves at risk to stop the spread of the coronavirus and care for those already infected. CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen reports on the dwindling supply of protective gear doctors and nurses need.
A 100-page federal plan on how to tackle the coronavirus pandemic obtained by CNN shows the Trump administration is making contingency plans for a pandemic that could stretch up to “18 months or longer” and could include “multiple waves of illness.”
Government agencies have also noted that it will be difficult to “forecast” how Covid-19 will spread and how severe an outbreak will be.
The report dated Friday is a behind-the-scenes look at how the administration is ramping preparedness and how the whole of the federal government is being mobilized to tackle the crisis in our midst.
While not saying specifically that the administration believes the pandemic will last 18 months, the document lays out the contingency plans they are making have to assume a longer timeline to ensure preparedness.
For planning purposes, the administration is also preparing for a scenario where “supply chain and transportation impacts due to ongoing COVID-19 outbreak will likely result in significant shortages for government, private sector and individual U.S. consumers.”
The plan outlined multiple times the risk posed by a shortage of medical equipment including ventilators and personal protective gear as the government seeks to communicate, and make sure states and localities have supplies. In multiple sections, the report notes that shortages of medical equipment could disrupt the government’s ability to follow through on their objectives.
“Shortages of products may occur, impacting healthcare, emergency services, and other elements of critical infrastructure. This includes potentially critical shortages of diagnostics, medical supplies (including PPE and pharmaceuticals), and staffing in some locations,” the report outlines in one potential scenario.
“This could be due either to illnesses or to exposure (requiring home quarantine) among public health and medical workers, but may also be due to fear of contracting the virus, exhaustion, or the need to take care of sick family members and maintain home isolation as a family unit. State and local governments, as well as critical infrastructure and communications channels,” it continues.
The report also says that while the production of a vaccine is underway, the government should be operating under the assumption that it won’t be ready any time soon and it will “take extended time to develop.”