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Peter Navarro warned White House millions could die from coronavirus

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  • The Trump administration received at least two memos — the first in January the second in February — from economic advisor Peter Navarro on both the human and economic costs of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • By the second memo, sent directly to President Trump on February 23, Navarro warned that as many as two million people could die and the economic loss could be as much as $6 trillion.
  • Some senior officials thought Navarro was being an alarmist. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Economic advisor Peter Navarro sent a memo to the National Security Council in January that predicted hundreds of thousands would die from the coronavirus and the economy would see a loss of trillions of dollars, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Overall, Navarro sent at least two memos, both warning of the grave impact if the coronavirus outbreak was not contained in the US.

In the first sent out on January 29, he wrote that half a million Americans could die, and the country could lose $6 trillion. 

“The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on US soil,” the memo read, according to The Times. “This lack of protection elevates the risk of the coronavirus evolving into a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.”

However, one senior administration official told Axios that they were wary of Navarro’s intentions, given his stance on China.

“The January travel memo struck me as an alarmist attempt to bring attention to Peter’s anti-China agenda while presenting an artificially limited range of policy options,” the unnamed official told Axios. 

Almost a month later, Navarro sent another memo, this time addressed to Trump directly, warning that as many as two million people in the US could die from the virus. 

Axios obtained the memos, which were both circulated around the White House and multiple agencies by the NSC, the report said.

In his first memo, Navarro urges for an immediate travel ban from China. He added that the estimate by Council of Economic Advisers’ said banning travel from China would cost $2.9 billion a month. That means if the ban were to be set in place for a year, the US would lose $34.6 billion. 

He also pointed out that without a containment approach, the economic cost could be anywhere from nothing to a loss of $5.7 trillion depending on how deadly the virus was, and wrote in the memo that it could kill as many as 543,000 Americans.

In his second memo, which Axios said was not explicitly signed by him, he requested $3 billion for immediate aid to “support efforts at prevention, treatment, inoculation, and diagnostics.”

This time he warned that as much as a third of the country could be infected with somewhere between a million to two million deaths. 

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