Tags: Coronavirus | Trump Administration | cdc | hhs | who | scapegoat

Trump Administration Targets CDC Over Coronavirus

blue sign outside cdc headquarters in atlanta
A sign is seen by the entrance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia on April 23, 2020.(Tami Chappell/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 23 June 2020 09:35 AM

Trump administration officials are looking to possibly single out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for missteps during the country’s early response to the coronavirus pandemic, Politico reports.

Four senior White House officials told Politico that several Trump aides have been discussing taking a deep dive into the agency. There has been no set plan put in place to review the agency, but conversations have been ongoing.

The probe would look into the state-by-state death toll to come up with an accurate count of the number of people who died directly from COVID-19, without counting any outside factors. The investigation would also look into why the agency had issues getting working test kits out during the initial outbreak.

The investigation could result in a narrowing of the agency’s mission or putting more political appointees in place, according to several current and former administration officials with knowledge of the topic.

According to Politico, Trump aides have been looking for a person or agency outside of China to blame for the country’s coronavirus response to take the pressure off the president. Some say the CDC’s testing mishap and its public health guidance make it the best scapegoat. Others say attacking the CDC is more challenging because the administration directly oversees it.

“WHO is an easy one,” said one former administration official. “It is a foreign body in Switzerland. CDC will be tough to create a bogeyman around for the average voter.”

Some officials say blaming the CDC could backfire because Trump and other officials dismissed the agency’s early warning bells about the virus.

An Obama administration official, who helped during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak response, cautioned against singling out the CDC.

“When the history books are written about this crisis, is anyone actually going to believe that America’s abysmal performance and its high death rate was because of some bureaucratic impediment at the CDC?" Juliette Kayyem, a former Homeland Security official, told Politico. “The core of America's problem is a White House that clearly was not pressed into action in January. And every flaw — from CDC and testing to FEMA and the stockpiles to the supply chain and the states — every systemic problem is rooted in White House malfeasance."

During a visit to the CDC last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar discussed possible changes with CDC Director Robert Redfield, according to a senior administration official. The official added that the discussions are still in their early stages and disputed the suggestion that any evaluation of the CDC would result in a scapegoating exercise.

Plans to make changes to the agency have been in the works since before the outbreak. Trump administration health officials told Redfield he should look into overhauling the agency back in 2018.

Trump slashed the CDC’s budget for 2021 by 19%, Politico reports. The budget plan states the CDC should refocus on “its core mission of preventing and controlling infectious diseases and other emerging health issues, such as opioids.”

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Trump administration officials are looking to possibly single out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for missteps during the country's early response to the coronavirus pandemic, Politico reports. Four senior White House officials told Politico that several Trump...
cdc, hhs, who, scapegoat
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2020-35-23
Tuesday, 23 June 2020 09:35 AM
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