The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee warned a small group of well-connected constituents three weeks ago to prepare for dire economic and societal effects of the coronavirus, according to a secret recording obtained by NPR.
The remarks from U.S. Sen. Richard Burr were more stark than any he had delivered in more public forums. On Feb. 27, when the United States had 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, President Trump was tamping down fears and suggesting the virus could be seasonal.
“It’s going to disappear. One day, It’s like a miracle. It will disappear,” the president said then, before adding, “it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens.”
The Raleigh News & Observer reports:
Burr told a small group that the coronavirus was “akin to the 1918 pandemic” and warned them to rethink European travel for themselves or their businesses.
“There’s one thing I can tell you about this. It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history. It’s probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic,” Burr said on the audio.
Burr wrote the legislation on how the U.S. is to handle pandemics. The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act, signed into law in 2019, is an update of previous legislation from Burr, which became law in 2006 and was reauthorized in 2013.
This is a devastating indictment of the Republican Party in the Trump era. This is a U.S. Senator with a platform and power who knows a crisis is coming, but says and does nothing because it might upset Trump. Vote them all out. They are not fit to govern. https://t.co/u6pQRm6I7d
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) March 19, 2020
This secret recording of @SenatorBurr suggests some in the GOP fully grasped how serious COVID 19 would be, but refused to say so publicly — putting American lives at risk to maintain allegiance to the Trump WH: https://t.co/QJJT2manDT
— Alex Wagner (@alexwagner) March 19, 2020
NEW: In a secret recording, Sen. Richard Burr is heard 3 weeks ago warning a group of well-connected constituents to prepare for dire effects of the coronavirus.
The remarks were much starker than any Burr had delivered in public at the time.https://t.co/DKT6IhHPzT
— NPR (@NPR) March 19, 2020