According to a report by the AP on Thursday, a new guide “created by the nation’s top disease investigators” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework” was set for publication last Friday. But, according to a CDC official, the Trump administration told the agency its advice “would never see the light of day.”
The CDC’s 17-page report included step-by-step advice guidance for “faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials” who are beginning to reopen across the country. One official told the AP that the now-scrapped guide was to be used as a “blueprint” for the CDC to then create “detailed advice” and included flowcharts and “different scenarios” for helping with “reopening schools, restaurants, summer camps, churches, daycare centers and other institutions.”
But for some time now, the Trump administration has been quieting an agency that, in the past, had been out front giving both the public and localities necessary health and science information. But now, in the midst of one of the worst pandemics our country has seen in more than a century, “the CDC has not had a regular, pandemic-related news briefing in nearly two months,” according to the AP. So, instead of leaning on federal health officials and their scientific expertise, the country is dangerously left with a president whose main goal appears to be controlling the message.
Earlier this week, Laurie Garrett, a Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist credited with being among the first to warn us of the coronavirus threat, spoke to the New York Times about the administration’s dangerous ghosting of the CDC.
“I’ve heard from every CDC in the world — the European CDC, the African CDC, China CDC — and they say, ‘Normally our first call is to Atlanta [US CDC headquarters], but we ain’t hearing back.’ There’s nothing going on down there. [The Trump administration has] gutted that place. They’ve gagged that place. I can’t get calls returned anymore. Nobody down there is feeling like it’s safe to talk. Have you even seen anything important and vital coming out of the CDC?” Garrett said.
On Wednesday, Garrett spoke to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and continued to sound the alarm about the silencing of the CDC, calling it a “tragedy.”
“This is a tragedy. Every major epidemic that we’ve faced in the United States in my lifetime has been run by the CDC,” she said. ”In 2014, when Ebola was sweeping through West Africa, the CDC played an absolutely pivotal role in advising every country in the world on how to respond — not just how we should respond in the United States.”
“So, now here we have the biggest epidemic the country has faced in the modern era, and the CDC is radio silent. Instead of daily briefings every single day, which we were accustomed to, for example, when Ebola was spread in West Africa, we’re hearing nada, nothing,” Garrett said.
“When you call the CDC there’s an awkwardness,” she continued. “Clearly, the moral situation inside the CDC is quite difficult right now. I mean, you have some of the best professionals on the planet, people who’ve been in the middle of epidemics all over the world and they’ve got their mouths zipped shut. They’re not able to take phone calls. They can’t interact with most of us on the outside.” Garrett added, “And this is just a travesty. A real travesty. It’s a loss, not just for every American, but for the whole world. Where is the CDC?”
This leaves the United States essentially without an agency that has expertise on how to respond to spreading viruses during, possibly, the worst pandemic the world has ever seen. Instead, we are saddled with a president who has decided to gut and muzzle that agency.