Archive for the ‘redfield’ Category

How the Trump admin devastated the CDC—and continues to cripple it

October 16th, 2020
A serious man in a business suit grimaces.

Enlarge / CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. (credit: Getty | Alex Edelman)

The CDC has been neutered, shamed, and blamed amid the novel coronavirus pandemic and global crisis. From internal missteps that bungled the country’s rollout of diagnostic testing to blatant political interference and strong-arming on critical public health guidance, the CDC has gone from the world’s premier public health agency to a silenced, overridden, distrusted afterthought in the US response—an agency stripped of its ability to collect even basic health data from hospitals during a raging pandemic.

The heavy blows to the agency’s reputation and role have been well documented throughout the pandemic. President Trump and his administration have openly undermined the agency and, behind the scenes, attacked it while overriding expert public health advice on testing, school reopening, and the handling of outbreaks on cruise ships, among other things.

But while the broad strokes of the agency’s undoing were noted in real time, a set of new investigations and reports offers new details. In a sweeping investigative report by ProPublica, three journalists retraced a number of events, digging up emails, heated exchanges, and alarm within the agency. For instance, it provides fresh insight into how a single CDC researcher valiantly worked to develop diagnostic tests for the novel coronavirus, only to fumble, producing tests contaminated with genetic sequences of the virus. That contamination produced false positive results in public health labs around the country, rendering the tests useless and losing precious time to get ahead of the disease's spread.

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Posted in birx, CDC, COVID-19, pandemic, public health, redfield, science, trump administration | Comments (0)

White House-CDC tensions explode as Trump contradicts its leadership

September 17th, 2020
Image of President Trump speaking from behind a lectern.

Enlarge / US President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in which he frequently contradicted his own health experts. (credit: Bloomberg/Getty Images)

There was good news and then bad news for public health expertise yesterday. In the wake of increasingly unhinged behavior from a President Trump-appointed communications director at the US Department of Health and Human Services, he and one of his key appointees have left their posts—one for two months, one permanently. But any hopes that science might resume being the main driver of US health policy were short-lived. Earlier in the day, CDC head Robert Redfield and other Health and Human Services officials testified before a Senate panel. By the evening, the president himself was calling his own CDC director mistaken about everything from mask use to the schedule of vaccine availability.

By the end of the day, Redfield was tweeting statements that balanced ambiguity against seeming to support Trump's view.

A backdrop of turmoil

A constant background of tension has existed between the Trump administration (which wants the country to return to normal operations despite the medical consequences) and public health officials (who actually want to protect the public's health). But several things have driven those tensions into the open recently, starting with last week's revelation that political appointees were attempting to interfere with reports from career scientists at the CDC. That issue was seemingly resolved in the CDC's favor, as a key administration figure in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Michael Caputo, took a two-month medical leave after making a video in which he spoke of armed uprisings and conspiratorial cabals of CDC scientists.

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Posted in CDC, COVID-19, HHS, masks, Policy, redfield, science, testing, Trump, vaccine | Comments (0)

CDC delays new school-reopening guidance prompted by flak from Trump

July 17th, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 08: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the U.S. Department of Education July 8, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 08: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the U.S. Department of Education July 8, 2020 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty | Alex Wong)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not release new guidance documents on school reopening this week, contrary to recent comments from officials in the Trump Administration.

A CDC spokesperson told NPR in an exclusive that new documents would instead be published sometime before the end of the month. The delay comes amid fierce nationwide debate about schools reopening and how it can be done safely.

President Mike Pence announced July 8 that the agency would release new documents this week that would better guide schools in their efforts to safely reopen classrooms shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic—which is still engulfing much of the US. That announcement came just hours after President Trump blasted the CDC’s current recommendations in a series of tweets, calling them “very tough & expensive.” He also threatened to cut funding from schools that do not open before the November election.

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Posted in CDC, children, COVID-19, education, Infectious disease, pence, public health, redfield, SARS-CoV-2, school reopening, schools, science, trump administration | Comments (0)

After months of silence, CDC holds press briefing, issues new COVID advice

June 12th, 2020
Huge facade for CDC headquarters against a beautiful sky.

Enlarge / Signage stands outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S, on Saturday, March 14, 2020. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

As states reopen and people begin to ease back into public life, so too is the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it seems.

Today, Friday, June 12, the CDC held its first COVID-19 press conference in just over three months. Though the pandemic has ravaged much of the US in that period, the last time the country’s leading public health agency held a briefing on the crisis was March 9.

In today’s briefing, CDC Director Robert Redfield and CDC Deputy Director of Infectious Diseases Jay Butler introduced two new sets of suggestions for how members of the public can stay safe from the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, as restrictions ease.  One set of recommendations relates to prevention measures for people considering resuming normal activities, like going to the post office or a restaurant. The other is a set of “considerations” for events and mass gatherings.

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Posted in CDC, coronavirus, covid-10, Infectious disease, outbreak, physical distancing, public health, rally, redfield, SARS-CoV-2, science, social distancing, Trump, virus | Comments (0)