Public Briefings Will Resume, Says Biden’s Choice for CDC Director

Speaking to CNN, Rochelle Walensky, President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that public briefings would resume under her leadership. That’s an about-face from current policy: The CDC has halted most of its briefings during the Covid-19 pandemic and most communication about the agency’s response to the crisis has been left to President Donald Trump and the White House coronavirus task force.

We need to have a uniformity of message. We’re already in really frequent communication, which I’m enthusiastic about, to make sure that the science that we are hearing is consistent with what other people are learning and that we’re taking all of the science collaboratively and making policies at a federal level,” Walensky said.

She added: “We need to promote the science, we need to just make sure the science is being consistent and translatable into guidance that is uniform across the states.”

You can watch Walensky’s interview with CNN below.

Incoming CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says she plans to reinstate regular public CDC briefings. “I think communication has to be key here,” she says. read more

WATCH: Trump Throws His Hand-Selected CDC Director Under the Bus

Trump Insults Auto workers at Ford factory

Donald Trump and the GOP’s COVID-19 response would be going well if it wasn’t for all the pesky medical experts. Conservative media declared Anthony Fauci to be the first opponent of the President’s cause. Lately, Dr. Deborah Birx has been a target as well.

Dr. Robert Redfield was appointed by Donald Trump to head up the Centers for Disease Control back in March of 2018. Up until this point Redfield has largely been immune to Conservative criticism. That changed on Wednesday when Trump called out the Doctor over his COVID vaccine timeline.

While speaking to a Senate committee on Wednesday, Redfield said that for a vaccine to be, “fully available to the American public, so we begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we are probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter 2021.”

This was obviously a point of contention for Donald Trump who hopes to have a vaccine prior to election day. The President told reporters Wednesday afternoon, “I think he made a mistake when he said that. . .We’re ready to distribute immediately to a vast section of the country.” Trump continued, “It was an incorrect statement. . . . We are ready at a much faster level than he said.”

Redfield also made waves by telling the senate that masks are probably more effective than a vaccine. “These facemasks are the important, powerful public health tool we have,” said the Doctor. “I might even go so far as to say that this facemask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.”

NEW: CDC Director Redfield to US Senate cmte.:

“These facemasks are the important, powerful public health tool we have … I might even go so far as to say that this facemask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.” read more

Democrats Launch Investigation into Trump Administration’s Pressure on CDC’s Coronavirus Reports

Democrats have launched an investigation into President Donald Trump’s administration’s pressure on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to change or delay reports related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The investigation will focus on the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports and comes after celebrated journalist Bob Woodward released recordings of interviews with the president in which the president admitted he sought to downplay the severity of the pandemic.

Representative Jim Clyburn, chair of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and his fellow lawmakers wrote a letter addressed to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield requesting “transcribed interviews and documents regarding efforts by political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to block the publication of accurate scientific reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the coronavirus crisis.”

“Given the crucial and pressing need for truthful scientific information during this ongoing public health crisis, the Select Subcommittee is seeking to determine the scope of political interference with CDC’s scientific reports and other efforts to combat the pandemic, the impact of this interference on CDC’s mission, whether this interference is continuing, and the steps that Congress may need to take to stop it before more Americans die needlessly,” they continue.

Democrats are requesting interviews with the following people on the dates listed below:

  • Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director, CDC, September 22, 2020, 9:00 a.m.
  • Charlotte Kent, MMWR Editor-in-Chief, CDC, September 22, 2020, 1:00 p.m.
  • Nina Witkofsky, Acting Chief of Staff, CDC, September 23, 2020, 9:00 a.m.
  • Trey Moeller, Acting Deputy Chief of Staff, CDC, September 23, 1:00 p.m.
  • Kate Galatas, Acting Associate Director for Communication, CDC, September 24, 2020, 9:00 a.m.
  • Paul Alexander, Senior Advisor, HHS, September 24, 2020, 1:00 p.m.
  • Michael Caputo, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, HHS, September 25, 2020, 9:00 a.m.
  • read more

    Mayor of Atlanta: Trump Broke the Law By Not Wearing a Mask During Visit

    The Mayor of Atlanta has said Donald Trump broke the law by refusing to wear a face mask during a recent visit to the city. Keisha Lance Bottoms said she wasn’t surprised by the President’s actions.

    Bottoms told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Trump clearly broke the city’s law by not having a mask on. Mask wearing is a key public health measure amid the ongoing pandemic.

    “So by not having on a mask, President Trump did violate law in the city of Atlanta, but I am somehow not surprised that he disregarded our rules and regulations in the city,” she said.

    “But it was encouraging to see that others did have some regard for what we’re doing and tried to accomplish in Atlanta and that’s to slow the spread of Covid-19.”

    The White House didn’t directly deny that Trump had broken a law but said he’d followed CDC guidelines.

    “The President takes the health and safety of everyone traveling in support of himself and all White House operations very seriously,” Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said.

    “When preparing for and carrying out any travel, White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office, to ensure plans incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible.”

    The President has been reluctant to wear a mask in public. He’s only recently starting do so as cases of Coronavirus have grown in large parts of the nation. Many of his supporters aren’t yet convinced of the effectiveness of masks.

    Mayor Bottoms is considered a strong candidate for the Democratic vice presidential nomination.

    Follow Darragh Roche on Twitter

    Four Former CDC Directors Slam Unconscionable Attacks on Public Health Officials Like Fauci

    Four former directors of the Centers for Disease Control have strongly condemned attacks on public health experts. Their criticism comes as the Trump administration takes aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci.

    Tom Frieden, Jeffrey Koplan, David Satcher and Richard Besser published an op-ed in Tuesday’s Washington Post defending public health experts, though they did not mention President Donald Trump specifically.

    “The CDC is home to thousands of experts who for decades have fought deadly pathogens such as HIV, Zika and Ebola,” they wrote.

    “Despite the inevitable challenges of evolving science and the public’s expectation of certainty, these are the people best positioned to help our country emerge from this crisis as safely as possible.”

    “Unfortunately, their sound science is being challenged with partisan potshots, sowing confusion and mistrust at a time when the American people need leadership, expertise and clarity,” they said.

    “These efforts have even fueled a backlash against public health officials across the country: Public servants have been harassed, threatened and forced to resign when we need them most.”

    “This is unconscionable and dangerous.”

    The former CDC directors’ words are timely. This week the White House has been accused of “orchestrating a hit job” against Dr. Fauci, who has led the nation’s pandemic response.

    It’s hard not to see their criticism of “partisan potshots” as an acknowledgement of the Trump administration’s attacks on Fauci and other experts.

    Follow Darragh Roche on Twitter read more

    Trump And His Associates Pressure CDC To Change How It Counts Coronavirus Deaths

    Trump suggests Americans should die for the stock market

    A new report from The Daily Beast reveals that President Donald Trump and members of the White House coronavirus task force are pressuring officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to change “how the agency works with states to count coronavirus-related deaths.”

    The report notes that Trump and his associates are “pushing for revisions that could lead to far fewer deaths being counted than originally reported, according to five administration officials working on the government’s response to the pandemic.”

    The president has reportedly suggested that the official death count––which now stands at over 83,400––was “incorrectly tallied or even inflated by current methodology.” As such, the White House has pushed the CDC to adjust how it counts coronavirus-related deaths and Deborah Birx, who coordinates the task force, has urged CDC officials not to count individuals who do not have confirmed test results and are presumed positive or who have the virus “and may not have died as a direct result of it.”

    CDC officials are pushing back against the White House’s request, in a blunt refusal to underplay the coronavirus’s mortality rate. Multiple individuals, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, believe the death toll is much higher than recorded.

    The Trump Administration Shelved the CDC’s Guide to Reopening the National Economy

    An exclusive report from The Associated Press reveals that President Donald Trump’s administration shelved a 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) team titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework.” The report, the AP notes, “was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen.”

    The document was set to be published last Friday, but a CDC official who spoke to the AP said that agency scientists were told it “would never see the light of day.”

    The CDC’s document reportedly contains more detail than the “Opening Up America Again” guidelines released by the White House last month. The White House’s guidelines are vaguer than the CDC’s, suggesting that state and local governments can reopen in accordance with federal and local “regulations and guidance,” including monitoring employees for symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

    The shelved report is far more strict. For example, it says restaurants and bars should install sneeze guards at cash registers. It also suggests eateries avoid having buffets, salad bars, and drink stations. It also recommends that restaurants seat diners at least six feet apart and that eateries use phone technology to alert patrons when their tables are ready to avoid touching anyone and using restaurant pagers.

    The Trump administration did not want to release the CDC’s guidance because it makes specific recommendations on how sectors of the economy could reopen. The AP obtained a copy of the guidance from another federal official who was not authorized to release it.

    The White House has exerted tight control over the CDC’s release of information during the coronavirus pandemic. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield has been largely absent from recent appearances by the coronavirus task force. The president recently suggested he would disband the task force, but did an about-face following heavy pushback. He now says the task force will continue “indefinitely.”

    Former CDC Director on Trump Reopening the Country: “If You Have Money and You’re White, You Can Do Well”

    A former CDC director has offered a blunt assessment of President Donald Trump reopening the U.S economy. Richard Besser said minority communities were at greater risk.

    Besser was acting head of the Centers for Disease Control for part of Barack Obama’s first term. He told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the country lacked the capacity to safely reopen.

    “Back in 2009 during the swine flu pandemic, when I went to brief the president and the cabinet, what President Obama said to me at the time was ‘We want everything that you do to be based on the best public health science,'” Besser said.

    “And I took that message back to the CDC,” he said. “The Emergency Operations Center broke out in cheers. It was just what people wanted hear.”

    “It’s what the public needs to hear now, that everything that we’re being told to do is based on the best science. Without that, there’s no way of knowing what things are being told for political reasons and what things are being done for good science reasons.”

    Watch the video:

    “We’re saying ’if you have money and you’re white, you can do well here,’” says former acting CDC Dir. Richard Besser on the state of coronavirus testing in the US. “If you’re not, good luck to you.” read more

    CBS Poll: When It Comes to the Coronavirus, Republicans Trust Trump More Than The CDC

    Trump denies putting a hold on WHO funding at coronavirus briefing

    A CBS News poll found that Republicans trust President Donald Trump more than they trust the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on information regarding the novel coronavirus.

    Some key findings:

  • 80 percent of Republicans say they trust the president for news pertaining to the coronavirus. By contrast,  74 percent said they trust the CDC over the president. 85 percent of Republicans say they trust “medical professionals” over both of these.
  • 20 percent of Republicans say they don’t trust Trump; 26 percent say they don’t trust the CDC. 15 percent say they don’t trust medical professionals.
  • read more

    The United States Slashed The CDC’s Staff in China Before Coronavirus Outbreak

    Trump blames Europe for US coronavirus

    An exclusive report from Reuters reveals that the Trump administration cut staff members from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who were inside China before its coronavirus outbreak.

    The majority of the reductions were made at CDC’s Beijing office and occurred over the last two years, according to public documents viewed by Reuters and four individuals with knowledge of the events.

    When President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the Beijing office had 47 staffers. That number has shrunk to 14. Epidemiologists were among those who lost jobs as a result of the cuts.

    Reuters reports that the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also shut their Beijing operations after Trump took office. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was also impacted, losing the manager of an animal disease monitoring program.

    “We had a large operation of experts in China who were brought back during this administration, some of them months before the outbreak,” said one of the people who witnessed the withdrawal of U.S. personnel. “You have to consider the possibility that our drawdown made this catastrophe more likely or more difficult to respond to.”

    The news comes after The Washington Post revealed that the U.S. intelligence community warned the Trump administration about a likely pandemic as early as January and February, but that these warnings were ignored. The president, according to White House insiders, only began to take the pandemic seriously after watching Fox News personality Tucker Carlson deliver a monologue on his program.

    Trump Slammed for Canceling CDC Visit as Coronavirus Death Toll Rises

    President Donald Trump has canceled his planned visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, according to an administration official who declined to be identified.

    “The president is no longer traveling to Atlanta today,” the official told reporters. “The CDC has been proactive and prepared since the very beginning and the president does not want to interfere with the CDC’s mission to protect the health and welfare of their people and the agency.”

    The decision comes after Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the national coronavirus response, said the president planned to sign an $8.3 billion emergency aid package at the CDC. The Senate passed the bill yesterday, a day after it was approved in the House. The bill, which includes more than $3 billion in vaccine research and $2.2 billion in prevention and preparedness efforts, exceeds the $2.5 billion the White House initially proposed.

    The coronavirus, which has claimed 14 lives in the United States, has continued to spread, and experts warn that the Trump administration’s bungled response has cost the nation significant time to control the outbreak.

    “The government has made some blunders in our pandemic preparedness by not quickly deploying functional coronavirus testing kits nor having sufficient testing capacity early on, when containment (via contact tracing and quarantines) would have been much more feasible,” Dr. Dana Grayson, a former Democratic candidate for Congress, told Newsweek.

    Trump had been scheduled to visit the CDC after visiting Nashville to assess damage from recent tornadoes. Instead, he will travel to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, to speak at a fundraiser. Critics were quick to slam the decision, saying the president, whose history of germaphobia is well documented, is likely afraid of getting sick himself.

    They’ll spend all day speculating about Trump’s cancelled visit to the CDC. He’s scared. End of story. read more