NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t


FRESH AIR: Apocalyptic novelist Max Brooks is something of an expert on planning for pandemics and other disasters. The author, whose books include World War Z, Germ Warfare and the forthcoming Devolution, has toured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and has reviewed government response plans related to various emergency situations — all in the course of research.

“We have a network in place that we as taxpayers have been funding to get us ready for something just like this,” Brooks says of the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, he adds, “we have been disastrously slow and disorganized from Day 1.“Brooks says the notion that the U.S. government was blindsided by the pandemic is “an onion of layered lies.”

“What could have happened when this virus exploded — even when Wuhan was locked down — is we could have put the word out,” he says. “The government could have put the word out to ramp up emergency supplies to get them ready and then have an information strategy in place.” Instead, Brooks says, President Trump was slow to acknowledge the virus as a real threat. And thus far, the president has resisted using the Defense Production Act to force private companies to manufacture masks, gloves and other essential supplies in the fight against the coronavirus. Many government task forces that plan for disasters have yet to be activated in this crisis.

“One of the biggest problems we’re facing now is panic. You see it in the stock market. You see it in panic buying,” he says. “All of this panic could have been prevented. … If the president had been working since January to get the organs of government ready for this, we as citizens could have been calmed down knowing that the people that we trust to protect us are doing that.” MORE