CDC ‘muzzled’ by Trump administration putting politics ahead of science

‘What’s tough is that if we would have acted earlier on what we knew and recommended, we would have saved lives and money,’ official says

James Crump
Wednesday 20 May 2020 16:28 BST
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Officials at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have claimed that the organisation has been muzzled by Donald Trump’s administration amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Six sources at the CDC told CNN that the government purposely ignored scientific evidence and made a coordinated response to the pandemic difficult.

According to the outlet, the organisation planned to put out a global advisory that warned about the dangers of flying abroad, a week before the Trump administration formally recognised it.

In the time between their proposal and the publishing of the advisory, more than 66,000 Europeans arrived at US airports.

The sources added that two days after CDC analysis showed the coronavirus was being transmitted in 29 countries, new data revealed it had reached 89 across the world.

A current CDC official told CNN that if the advisory had been published when the organisation planned, US lives would have been saved.

“We’ve been muzzled,” they said. “What’s tough is that if we would have acted earlier on what we knew and recommended, we would have saved lives and money.”

Sources told the outlet that the CDC has been relegated to an advisor, instead of leading the response, as would normally be the case.​

One CDC official said that guidelines on safely reopening the US were also ignored by the Trump administration.

“If you look at our guidance documents online, they have been watered down a lot,” they said.

“The ones that were written in March say, ‘Go home and stay there,’ and they are very clear. And the ones now say, ‘in consultation with state and local governors, do what they say.’”

They added that the CDC’s role has changed during the pandemic: “We normally give guidance and then states take that guidance and turn it into policy.”

The official said that previously CDC employees were treated like scientists, but “that’s not the case this time. If the science that we are offering up contradicts a specific policy goal, then we are the problem.”

A 63-page document that included CDC guidelines for safely reopening states was obtained by the Associated Press last week.

The guidelines called for specific safety precautions to be rolled out all over the country, so to not cause confusion and to limit the number of new patients.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, called for the full report to be released.

“America needs and must have the candid guidance of our best scientists unfiltered, unedited, uncensored by president Trump or his political minions,” he said.

“The CDC report on reopening the country is an important piece of that guidance.”

The Independent has contacted the White House for comment.

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