Did any US politician call for quarantining, ventilator production, ICU capacity expansion, PPE stockpiling, or anything of that level of seriousness between January 1 and March 1? I'd like to know (a) so that I can take any such politician more seriously and (b) to better calibrate my sense of the adequacy of the US political system (since I live in the US).
US Senator Josh Hawley (Republican from Missouri) on the 27th of February proposed legislation that would
Require that manufacturers report imminent or forecasted shortages of life-saving or life-sustaining medical devices to the FDA just as they currently do for pharmaceutical drugs. This new information on devices would be added to the FDA’s annual report to Congress on drug shortages.
Allow the FDA to expedite the review of essential medical devices that require pre-market approval in the event of an expected shortage reported by a manufacturer.
Give new authority to the FDA to request information from manufacturers of essential drugs or devices regarding all aspects of their manufacturing capacity, including sourcing of component parts, sourcing of active pharmaceutical ingredients, use of any scarce raw materials, and any other details the FDA deems relevant to assess the security of the U.S. medical product supply chain.
The purpose is allegedly to ensure that the FDA is aware of the extent to which the US medical product supply chain depends on other countries.
He also sent a letter to the heads of the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, State, and Transportation on the 24th of January asking for guidance about when the US government would implement travel restrictions from China and other countries, and sent another letter to the FDA commissioner on the 24th of February asking about how the FDA would deal with drug and medical device shortages. It is not obvious to me whether this is meaningless grandstanding or actually useful.
San Francisco's mayor, London Breed, declared a state of emergency in the city on February 25th, and it seems like she was concerned about the disease (and specifically ICU capacity) as early as January.
I don't know what actions the mayor's office actually took during this time, but it seems like she was at least aware and concerned well ahead of most other politicians.