Then-CDC Director Robert Redfield testifies on Capitol Hill on March 12, 2020.

Robert Redfield lamented how the CDC was sidelined under the Trump administration.
Excerpts from Redfield’s private testimony were first released on Friday.
Redfield confirms that a CDC official’s February 2020 comments led to more pressure on the agency.

Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield testified to Congress that the Trump administration effectively muzzled the health agency after a top official made comments about the then-emerging pandemic that spooked the White House.

“I’ve said this publicly before, this is one of my great disappointments. That HHS basically took over total clearance of briefings by CDC,” Redfield testified before the House panel tasked with investigating the federal government’s response to the pandemic.

Excerpts of Redfield’s testimony were first released on Friday and were first reported by The Washington Post.

Redfield’s testimony, as he himself alluded to, underscores the CDC’s very obvious absence during key moments of the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response. As Redfield told lawmakers, this came after CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Director Nancy Messonnier alerted Americans to the possibility on February 25, 2020, that the pandemic could be “severe.”

Messonnier, of course, was proven right. The coronavirus pandemic has killed nearly 1 million Americans. But at the time, her comments contradicted the White House’s public views and her concern sent the stock market tumbling. In response, Redfield testified that the CDC could not get approval from the Health and Human Services Department to hold its own news briefings.

“So from where I sat, the ability to make those decisions internally at CDC were no longer CDC’s decisions, whereas I would argue the clearance process prior to Nancy Messonnier’s was more perfunctory, whatever we put up got cleared. And I assume we still had to get cleared, but I don’t remember ever not being cleared until afterwards that I — for a while, none of our briefings were approved,” Redfield testified. 

As an example of other political interference, the House committee pointed to internal White House emails that detail the private debate over how the CDC should advise churches and houses of worship during the pandemic.

“I have proposed several passages for deletion,” Paul Ray, then-administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote in a May 2020 email in response to the CDC’s draft guidance that advised virtual or drive-in options for …read more

Source:: Business Insider


Former CDC director confirms the Trump administration muzzled the health agency for months as COVID-19 spread: ‘This is one of my great disappointments’

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