“On Saturday, March 21st, while Donald Trump was tweeting about the “Chinese virus” and circulating praise for the “great job we’ve done,” Eric Ries received a phone call from another Silicon Valley C.E.O. His friend Jeff Lawson, of the firm Twilio, told Ries that, to deal with the rapidly escalating coronavirus crisis, the White House was recruiting tech executives to help. Ries—the founder and C.E.O. of a new company, the Long-Term Stock Exchange, and the author of a best-selling book, “The Lean Startup,” which had made him a well-known figure in the Valley—was an obvious choice for someone looking to stand up a high-tech solution to the disaster quickly. He had long preached the virtues of going to market as fast as possible with what he called M.V.P.: minimum viable product.
America was watching, shocked, as doctors and nurses pleaded for protective gear and medical equipment such as ventilators. Ries was asked to help start a Web site that would match hospitals and suppliers. Sure, Ries said, he could have something up and running by Monday. What followed over the next two weeks was an inside glimpse of the dysfunction emanating from Trump’s Washington in the midst of the pandemic, a crash course in the breakdown that has led to nurses in one of the wealthiest countries in the world wearing garbage bags to protect themselves from a virus whose outbreak the President downplayed until it was too late to prepare for its consequences.”