The White House ordered for dozens of top-level meetings about the novel coronavirus to be classified, a move that may have hampered the country’s ability to contain the now-pandemic, . The information comes from four anonymous administration officials who say that the meetings covered issues such as quarantines, travel restrictions, and the number of infections.
According to the officials, meetings have been held in a high-security room in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which would normally be used for intelligence and military operations. HHS is in charge of several health agencies, most notably the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is responsible for restricting the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
The desire for secrecy meant that “very critical people,” including government experts without security clearance, were not able to attend the meetings, according to one source. A senior lawyer, for example, was prevented from being able to attend and provide input about a quarantine because he did not have the security clearance, despite having the required expertise. This delayed his input, which was later delivered at an unclassified meeting, according to Reuters.
Yesterday, Trump banned most travel from Europe for 30 days in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.