Trump administration pressured CDC on covid-19 measures

(CNN) – Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were pressured by members of the Donald Trump administration to alter scientific guidance and prevented from communicating directly with the public, they show. New evidence presented by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis to CNN this Friday.

In new excerpts from transcribed interviews, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, former director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said she learned that then-President Donald Trump was angry about a February 25, 2020, briefing during the which warned the public about the dangers of the coronavirus. Messonnier says in the transcript that she had calls with former CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield and former US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar after the briefing, and that she felt “upset” after her conversation with Azar .

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In the transcripts, other CDC officials described how requests for information sessions on mask use and pediatric COVID-19 cases and deaths were denied. When asked about a CNN report claiming that CDC officials felt “gagged,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, former CDC deputy chief director, said, “That’s the feeling we had, a lot of We had”.

Several interviews also described the administration’s efforts to alter or influence the agency’s weekly scientific reports and guidance, the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), which are not normally available. they are shared outside the agency prior to publication.

It took a “great effort to protect that integrity,” Schuchat said in the transcribed excerpt, and an “active effort” by CDC officials “to ensure that attempts were unsuccessful” to alter the reports.

In another interview, Dr. Christine Casey, an editor for the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, described an email from Trump-appointed Paul Alexander and former US Health and Human Services adviser that she viewed as a request to stop a report. He called it “very unusual and quite disturbing for someone to call for the MMWR reporting to stop immediately. I don’t think it has happened before. And to be accused, because it is accusatory language, that the content of the MMWR is designed to harm. to our commander-in-chief, the president. “

Casey said she was ordered to delete the email and was told the order came from Redfield.

The transcripts also include a conversation with Dr. Deborah Birx, who served as the White House coronavirus response coordinator, in which she described how the Trump administration pushed for guidance that said people who were not symptomatic did not need be examined, even though health officials disagreed. She said it was the intention of Dr. Scott Atlas, a Trump coronavirus adviser, “to change the guidelines on testing.”

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“This document resulted in less testing and less … less aggressive testing for those without symptoms that he believed were the main reason for the initial community spread,” he said.

The commission also renewed its request that Redfield appear for a transcribed interview, and requested interviews with three other senior officials: Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine; Dr. Daniel Jernigan, CDC Deputy Director of Public Health Science and Oversight; and Dr. Henry Walke, Director of the Division of Emerging Infections and Preparedness at CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (DPEI) and former Incident Director of CDC’s response to covid-19. 19.

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