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Following on the heals of yesterday’s Politico piece documenting Political Interference in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), today ProPublica released a story “Inside the Fall of the CDC” which tells the more complete tale of how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, long the gold standard in the world on public health, could crumble in the face of “unprecedented political interference in public health policy, and the capitulations of some of the world’s top public health leaders.” This is a sad story made all the more disturbing as this same playbook is being followed across many executive branch agencies. The Trump administration is “appropriating a public enterprise and making it into an agent of propaganda for a political regime,” one CDC scientist said in an interview as events unfolded. “It’s mind-boggling in the totality of ambition to so deeply undermine what’s so vitally important to the public.”
When the next history of the CDC is written, 2020 will emerge as perhaps the darkest chapter in its 74 years, rivaled only by its involvement in the infamous Tuskegee experiment, in which federal doctors withheld medicine from poor Black men with syphilis, then tracked their descent into blindness, insanity and death.
With more than 216,000 people dead this year, most Americans know the low points of the current chapter already. A vaunted agency that was once the global gold standard of public health has, with breathtaking speed, become a target of anger, scorn and even pity.
How could an agency that eradicated smallpox globally and wiped out polio in the United States have fallen so far?
ProPublica obtained hundreds of emails and other internal government documents and interviewed more than 30 CDC employees, contractors and Trump administration officials who witnessed or were involved in key moments of the crisis. Although news organizations around the world have chronicled the CDC’s stumbles in real time, ProPublica’s reporting affords the most comprehensive inside look at the escalating tensions, paranoia and pained discussions that unfolded behind the walls of CDC’s Atlanta headquarters. And it sheds new light on the botched COVID-19 tests, the unprecedented political interference in public health policy, and the capitulations of some of the world’s top public health leaders.
Lately the President and Secretary Pompeo are arguing in the media that China purposely created the COVID19 as a weapon. There are no formal statements at the Whitehouse or State Department websites. The DNI has issued a statement at its website, and GPO has agreed to catalog the news release for its historical value. Times’ journalists reported that the Administration’s strategy is to blame China as a political strategy to divert the public’s attention from its handling of COVID19 outbreak in the U.S.
Recently the Trump Says China May Be ‘Knowingly Responsible’ for Virus By Mario Parker April 18, 2020, 4:10 PM PDT Updated on April 20, 2020, 1:15 AM PDT
‘President Donald Trump raised the prospect that China deliberately caused the Covid-19 outbreak that’s killed over 39,000 Americans and said there should be consequences if the country is found to be “knowingly responsible.”‘
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, ODNI News Release No. 11-20, April 30, 2020 Intelligence Community Statement on Origins of COVID-19 WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Office of the Director of National Intelligence today issued the following Intelligence Community (IC) statement:
“The entire Intelligence Community has been consistently providing critical support to U.S. policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus, which originated in China. The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified. As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to U.S. national security. The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
G.O.P. Aiming To Make China The Scapegoat: [Foreign Desk] Martin, Jonathan; Haberman, Maggie. New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]19 Apr 2020: A.1.
“The strategy could not be clearer: From the Republican lawmakers blanketing Fox News to new ads from President Trump’s super PAC to the biting criticism on Donald Trump Jr.’s Twitter feed, the G.O.P. is attempting to divert attention from the administration’s heavily criticized response to the coronavirus by pinning the blame on China. With the death toll from the pandemic already surpassing 34,000 Americans and unemployment soaring to levels not seen since the Great Depression, Republicans increasingly believe that elevating China as an archenemy culpable for the spread of the virus, and harnessing America’s growing animosity toward Beijing, may be the best way to salvage a difficult election” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/18/us/politics/trump-china-virus.html
Center for the Digital Future
‘Public officials as sources of information – Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was cited most often as the public official relied on for information about the pandemic (45%), followed by “my own state’s governor” (35%), government online resources (30%), other experts (29%), and international/non-government resources, such as the World Health Organization (21%). Donald Trump is relied on by 20% of Americans for information about the pandemic. Identified by political affiliation, the only group reporting a majority who rely on Trump for information were those who say they are “very conservative” (53%). Less than a majority of respondents in all other political groups rely on Trump: Those who label themselves as somewhat conservative (42%), middle-of-the-road (15%), somewhat liberal (4%), and very liberal (7%). Government response to the virus (federal vs. state) – The actions by state and local governments are rated much better than the federal response to the pandemic. More than half (54%) say the state or local response was good or excellent, compared to one-third who report the same response about federal programs. Thirty-nine percent of Americans rate the federal response as poor, while less than half of that number report a “poor” rating for state and local response (14%).’
Fauci to testify before Senate after White House blocked him from appearing before Congress. By Benjamin Siegel May 2, 2020,
‘A subcommittee meets next week to discuss the government response to COVID-19. After the White House blocked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the government’s coronavirus task force, from testifying before House lawmakers next week, he will appear before the GOP-led Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions on May 12, a spokesperson for Sen. Lamar Alexander said in a statement. “Chairman Alexander looks forward to hearing from Dr. Fauci and other administration officials at the Senate health committee’s second hearing back, which will be on Tuesday, May 12,” the statement read. “While the Trump Administration continues its whole-of-government response to COVID-19, including safely opening up America again and expediting vaccine development, it is counter-productive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at Congressional hearings. We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time,” he said. The White House’s efforts to block Fauci’s testimony were first reported by The Washington Post.’
Trump to replace Health Inspector General who criticized coronavirus response, BY GRACE SEGERS, MAY 2, 2020 / 4:47 PM / CBS NEWS
‘President Trump announced his intent to nominate a new inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), weeks after acting inspector general Christi Grimm released a report detailing shortages of testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals responding to the coronavirus pandemic… Mr. Trump criticized Grimm in early April, calling the findings in her report “wrong.”‘
Hospital Experiences Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Results of a National Pulse Survey March 23-27, 2020 WHAT WE FOUND Hospitals reported that their most significant challenges centered on testing and caring for patients with COVID-19 and keeping staff safe. Hospitals said that severe shortages of testing supplies and extended waits for test results limited hospitals’ ability to monitor the health of patients and staff. They also reported that widespread shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) put staff and patients at risk. In addition, hospitals said that they were not always able to maintain adequate staffing levels or to offer staff adequate support.
The U.S Government Offices has cataloged and made available to the public. https://permanent.fdlp.gov/gpo135372/oei-06-20-00300.pdf
co-published on govdoc-l and freegovinfo.info.
On Politics: ‘Politics and Cronyism Ahead of Science’. New York: New York Times Company. Apr 23, 2020.
“Is President Trump putting “politics and cronyism ahead of science”? Those were the words chosen by Rick Bright, the doctor who had been leading the federal effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine. This week he was removed from that position at the Department of Health and Human Services and reassigned to a narrower role at the National Institutes of Health, Bright said. He had resisted Trump’s efforts to direct government money toward hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that some have pushed as a viable coronavirus treatment despite a lack of thorough vetting by medical researchers. Bright says he thinks this is what led to his ouster.”
‘”I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit,” Bright said in a statement to The Times. Although it did not name Trump directly, the letter made clear Bright’s dissatisfaction with how he had been treated by the administration, even before he was removed from his post. “I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science – not politics or cronyism – has to lead the way,” he said.’
The HHS official overseeing coronavirus vaccine development says he was ousted after his objections to hydroxychloroquine. By Aaron Rupar, Apr 22, 2020, 6:20pm EDT “In the letter, first reported by the New York Times, Bright demanded the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General investigate whether his demotion to a lesser role with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) stemmed from political or financial motives instead of public health ones. (Trump has a small investment in a company that manufactures Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine, and numerous wealthy Republican donors who are close with Trump have larger financial stakes in hydroxychloroquine drugs.)”
Dr. Bright’s statement is contained in the Rupar article and links to Maggie Haberman’s tweet: https://twitter.com/JDiamond1/status/1253056646802214912/photo/1
Today Dr Bright’s attorney’s stated he would be filing a whistleblower complaint.
co-published on govdoc-l and freegovinfo.info.