The Trump administration recently requested $2.5 billion in emergency funds to prepare the U.S. for a possible widespread outbreak of coronavirus. Critics, though, are pointing out that money might not be necessary if the administration hadn’t spent the past two years largely dismantling government units that were designed to protect against pandemics.
The cuts started in 2018, as the White House focused on eliminating funding to Obama-era disease security programs. In March of that year, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, whose job it was to lead the U.S. response in the event of a pandemic, abruptly left the administration and his global health security team was disbanded.
That same year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was forced to slash its efforts to prevent global disease outbreak by 80% as its funding for the program began to run out. The agency, at the time, opted to focus on 10 priority countries and scale back in others, including China.