- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2020

President Trump’s reelection campaign on Thursday released a detailed timeline of White House actions against the coronavirus outbreak, moving to blunt criticism that his response to the crisis was slow or inadequate.

The timeline begins with China’s Dec. 31 report of discovering the novel coronavirus and lists 56 steps the Trump administration took to protect Americans over the ensuing two and half months.

The early moves included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issuing a travel notice for Wuhan, China, where the virus erupted, within a week of the Dec. 31 report.

The campaign described the timeline as “decisive actions to combat the coronavirus.”

Liberal news media and the president’s political foes, including likely Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden, have accused Mr. Trump of not moving fast enough to protect the U.S.

“Unfortunately, this virus laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current administration,” Mr. Biden said last week. “Public fears are being compounded by pervasive lack of trust in this president fueled by adversarial relationships with the truth that he continues to have.”

Mr. Biden, a former vice president, also accused Mr. Trump of rejecting an offer of coronavirus testing kits from the World Health Organization.

The independent fact-checking organization PolitiFact rated Mr. Biden’s claim “mostly false.”

Mr. Trump frequently cites his early decision to restrict visitors from China as helping slow the spread of coronavirus, which causes the deadly the COVID-19 disease.

He also has bristled at the negative news coverage of the efforts.

“It amazes me when I read the things that I read,” Mr. Trump said at a daily briefing Thursday, calling out The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post. “They use different slogans and different concepts almost every week, trying to catch something. Last week it was ‘chaos.’ You see me. I’m the one telling everyone to be calm. There’s no chaos in the White House.”

Key events in the campaign’s timeline included:

• Jan. 7: The CDC established a coronavirus incident management system to better share and respond to information about the virus.

• Jan. 17: The CDC began implementing public health entry screening at the three U.S. airports that received the most travelers from Wuhan — San Francisco, New York JFK, and Los Angeles.

• Jan. 20: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health’s infectious disease institute, announced efforts to develop a vaccine.

• Jan. 21: The CDC activated its emergency operations center to provide support to the coronavirus response.

• Jan. 31: Mr. Trump declared a public health emergency, announced Chinese travel restrictions, and suspended entry into the U.S. for foreign nationals at risk of transmitting the virus.

• Feb. 4: Mr. Trump vowed in his State of the Union address to “take all necessary steps” to protect Americans from the coronavirus.

• Feb. 11: The Department of Health and Human Services expanded a partnership with Janssen Research & Development to “expedite the development” of a coronavirus vaccine.

• Feb. 24: The administration sent a letter to Congress requesting at least $2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.

• Feb. 29: The administration announced a level 4 travel advisory to areas of Italy and South Korea, barred all travel to Iran, and barred the entry of foreign citizens who visited Iran in the last 14 days.

• March 3: The CDC lifted federal restrictions on coronavirus testing to allow any American to be tested “subject to doctor’s orders.”

• March 13: Mr. Trump announced public-private partnerships to open drive-through testing sites, a pause on interest payments on federal student loans, and an order to the Department of Energy to purchase oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

• March 18: Mr. Trump announced a temporary closure of the U.S.-Canada border to non-essential traffic and plans to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase the number of necessary supplies needed to combat coronavirus.

The U.S. death toll from the virus rose to more than 170 deaths on Thursday with more than 13,100 cases reported, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally of the viruses spread around the globe.

The death toll worldwide topped 13,000 the total number of infections exceeded 242,000, including nearly 85,000 people who have recovered.

• Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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