Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) warned a private group of business executives three weeks ago that the novel coronavirus would have severe impacts on the nation, according to a secret recording obtained by NPR reporter Tim Mak. At the same time that President Trump was telling the public that the virus would probably “disappear,” Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the members-only Tar Heel Circle in North Carolina that the virus was “probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.” He warned the private audience that the virus may be very disruptive to their travel—15 days later, Trump banned European travel. Burr also told the execs that schools may be closed and the military may be called in—16 days later schools were closed and on Wednesday officials started deploying military resources. The recording raises questions about whether Burr was truthful and frank with the American public, possibly allowing people more time to prepare for what has since become a full-blown crisis, NPR reported. Burr’s spokesperson told NPR that the senator has always advocated for public-health issues and has worked to educate the public about this.
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