Two memos from President Donald Trump‘s economic Peter Navarro foreshadowed the potentially catastrophic consequences of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), but went largely ignored. At a White House press briefing this week, Trump said he never read them.

The memos, dated Jan. 29 and Feb. 23, estimated the possible economic toll and the number of lives the virus could take.

The first memo said the virus could cost nearly $6 trillion and could kill over 500,000 called for “an immediate travel ban on China,” which Trump did two days after receiving the memo.

His February predictions worsened, and Navarro warned that up to two million Americans could die from the virus and emphasized the increasing demand for medical supplies.

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“There is an increasing probability of a full-blown COVID-19 pandemic that could infect as many as 100 million Americans, with a loss of life of as many as 1-2 million souls,” the memo reads.


Navarro also recommended an “immediate supplemental appropriation of at least $3 billion” to support efforts related medical efforts. He added that demand for protective gear for healthcare workers would jump writing, “We can expect to need at least a billion face masks, 200,000 Tyvek suits, and 11,000 ventilator circuits, and 25,000 PAPRs (powered air-purifying respirators).”

One senior administration official said they were skeptical of Navarro’s “anti-China” agenda.

As of Thursday morning, the U.S. has over 435,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and nearly 15,000 deaths.

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