VA Records Related to “Red Dawn” Email String

Records from the Department of Veterans Affairs received in response to American Oversight’s request for a complete copy of the “Red Dawn” email chain. Details on the content of these records are below.

Records received April 2021

Records received April and May 2021
In the Documents

March 5, 2020: An individual whose name is redacted sent an email saying: “[W]e are in the complex domain [of] trying to reinforce the emergence of patterns we want thru some simple rules (staying home if you are ill, staying home if someone is ill, closing schools, and avoiding socially dense environments (social distancing)). […] If a large enough fraction of 330M Americans follow those simple rules we drive down disease transmission. […] When leaders modify those simple rules (or exclude one altogether) and pull the trigger at different points in the outbreak, the outcomes are nonlinear and not predictable.”

March 9, 2020: Carter Mecher, the VA’s senior medical adviser, wrote that “time is being frittered away. It has been 9 days since Seattle announced the first death. They really haven’t put measures in place that will tamp down transmission. They have lost valuable time that cannot be made up. Time = transmission = more ill = more hospitalized = more dead = overwhelmed healthcare = failure. Can’t be any more direct than that.” 

March 10, 2020: An individual whose name is redacted shared a message, apparently written by Mecher, regarding the lack of early mitigation measures. “You do have to ask yourself why just about every other country is closing schools and universities but we won’t. I guess it will be an experiment. I really hope I am dead wrong. I just don’t like experimenting and gambling with the lives of the 70 M Americans age 60 or older (including me, my wife, my brothers and sister, my parents, my in-laws, and my friends).” 

March 11, 2020: An individual whose name is redacted wrote, “Well, I give the president credit for changing his tone and making Americans know this is very serious. By all other metrics, it was a combination of gibberish, unnecessary steps, and insufficient detail. We still have a lot of work ahead of us team.” On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the spread of Covid-19 a global pandemic, and then-President Donald Trump delivered an address announcing a 30-day travel ban on visitors from Europe. 

March 13, 2020: An individual whose name is redacted sent an email saying that the “hospital capacity line will drop significantly with an influx of patients even with NPIs [non-pharmaceutical interventions]” and that the “focus on hospital and healthcare capacity is lost in the news cycle.”