Over the past three years the administration has weakened the offices in charge of preparing for and preventing this kind of outbreak.
…It has slashed funding for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its infectious disease research. For fiscal year 2020, Trump proposed cutting the CDC budget by US$1.3 billion, nearly 20% below the 2019 level.
…Every year since taking office, Trump has asked for deep cuts into research on emerging diseases – including the CDC’s small center on emerging and “zoonotic” infectious diseases.
…It manages laboratory, epidemiologic, analytic and prevention programs, and collaborates with state and local health departments, other federal government agencies, industry and foreign ministries of health.
In 2018, Trump tried to cut $65 million from this budget – a 10% reduction. In 2019, he sought a 19% reduction. For 2020, he proposed to cut federal spending on emerging infectious and zoonotic diseases by 20%. This would mean spending $100 million less in 2020 to study how such diseases infect humans than the U.S. did just two years ago.
…The overall level of appropriations for relevant CDC programs is still 10% below what the U.S. spent in 2016.
…in 2018 the administration disbanded its own global health security team, which was supposed to make the U.S. more resilient to the threat of epidemics.
…[The Trump administration] eliminated the National Security Council’s global health security and biodefense directorate, and reshuffled its team of world-class infectious disease experts. In response, two highly respected leaders in the field – Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, the NSC’s senior director for global health security and biodefense, and Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert – left the White House.
…Containing the first major Ebola epidemic in 2014-2016, which killed 11,000 people in West Africa, required an enormous global effort. Only 11 patients were treated for Ebola in the U.S., but that was because President Obama took the threat seriously, appointing an “Ebola czar” to coordinate U.S. preparedness and assistance.