More than 1,000 current and former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of Epidemic Intelligence Officers have signed an open letter rejecting “the ominous politicization” of the agency throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Why it matters: The CDC is typically at the forefront of the U.S. response to public health crises, but the agency has been largely ruled out during the COVID-19 outbreak, in which the White House sought to control messages that at times contradict scientific evidence.
What they say: “We hereby express our concern at the ominous politicization and silencing of the nation’s health protection agency during the ongoing COVID-1
- “In previous public health crises, the CDC provided the best available information and simple recommendations directly to the public. It was widely respected for effectively synthesizing and applying scientific evidence from epidemiologists and biomedical researchers at the CDC and around the world.”
- “Its historical credibility was based on incomparable expertise and more than 70 years of institutional memory. That focus and organization can hardly be recognized today,” the letter, signed so far by 1,044 people, said.
- “The absence of national leadership on COVID-19 is unprecedented and dangerous.”
- “Inconsistent contact tracing efforts are limited within each state’s borders – while coronavirus infections unfortunately are not. Such chaos is what the CDC usually avoided in its long history of collaborating with state and local health authorities to develop national systems for disease surveillance and coordinated control.”
- “The CDC should be at the forefront of a successful response to this global public health emergency. We urge the American people to demand and the leaders of our country to let the CDC resume its indispensable role.”
The other side: An official from the Trump administration told the WSJ that “the CDC occupies a critical seat in the (coronavirus) task force, which is made up of public health leaders with a range of valuable expertise.”
Go deeper: Read the entire letter from the epidemic intelligence officers