Quite simply, what could go wrong did go wrong. Given the choice between assuming leadership of a situation that is pure chaos, where the National Guard is forced into a position of going to war against a trapped and possibly infected citizenry, the President chooses to punt. He knows what enforcing a quarantined zone will require: the massacre of tens of thousands of terrified people demanding to get out, and there is no way he's going to have his name and legacy sullied. Suddenly a states' rights champion, he leaves the situation under the control of the Governor of New York, but not before hampering the men on the lines with rules of engagement that are meant to sooth journalists instead of creating a possibility of victory.
Tasked with the impossible, General Collins, commander of the 42nd Infantry Division is in a meeting with the Governor when the perimeter of the quarantine zone is ruptured. When his command post is overrun he's grinding his teeth, sitting in front of the President as he smiles for the cameras, makes jokes and demands answers. And in the dead of night when 100,000 infected persons slug it out toe-to-toe with the fractured remains of his division, he is the only reinforcement available to shoulder a rifle.
Inside the Zone, the survivors of Day One are dying by the score as Dr. Lee and her friends, hopelessly fight their way from one end of the Zone to the other, desperate to escape. But there is no way out except through death at the ripping teeth of the undead. Striving to put that horrible moment off for as long as possible, she finds herself trapped alongside Anna Holloway and Lieutenant - they are three scorpions in a bottle...a bottle surrounded by countless undead.