White House officials may have been given an early warning about the potential damage the coronavirus could cause to the country.
The New York Times reported that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro drafted a memo, dated January 29, that warned officials in President Donald Trump’s administration that the coronavirus could cause serious harm to the economy.
Navarro also warned that the outbreak could become a pandemic.
The memo reads, “The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on U.S. soil.”
It continued, “This lack of protection elevates the risk of the coronavirus evolving into a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.”
He projected that in a worst-case scenario with the outbreak could lead to up to half a million deaths from the virus.
Navarro wrote another memo that was dated February 23 that projected the virus could “infect as many as 100 million Americans, with a loss of life of as many as 1.2 million souls.”
Additionally, Navarro encouraged administration officials to avoid “penny-pinching or horse-trading on the Hill” when it comes to relief packages.
The Times reports that senior administration officials saw the memo, but it is not known if Trump saw it.
Navarro’s memo appears to be one of the earliest warnings administration officials received. They were also written at a time when Trump was insisting that life could continue as normal and before the federal government ramped up its response to the virus.
However, the Times reports that administration officials were suspicious of Navarro’s motives for drafting the memo and paid little attention to his warnings.
The latest data shows that the U.S. has 383,256 confirmed cases of the virus. Additionally, as the virus spread and large swaths of the economy shut down, more than 10 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks.