Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/11/exclusive-trump-officials-interfered-with-cdc-reports-on-covid-19-412809

The politically appointed HHS spokesperson and his team demanded and received the right to review CDC’s scientific reports to health professionals.

But since Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background, was installed in April as the health department’s new spokesperson, there have been substantial efforts to align the reports with Trump’s statements, including the president’s claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether.

Caputo and his team have attempted to add caveats to the CDC’s findings, including an effort to retroactively change agency reports that they said wrongly inflated the risks of Covid-19 and should have made clear that Americans sickened by the virus may have been infected because of their own behavior, according to the individuals familiar with the situation and emails reviewed by POLITICO.

Caputo’s team also has tried to halt the release of some CDC reports, including delaying a report that addressed how doctors were prescribing hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug favored by Trump as a coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence. The report, which was held for about a month after Caputo’s team raised questions about its authors’ political leanings, was finally published last week. It said that “the potential benefits of these drugs do not outweigh their risks.”

In one clash, an aide to Caputo berated CDC scientists for attempting to use the reports to “hurt the President” in an Aug. 8 email sent to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other officials that was widely circulated inside the department and obtained by POLITICO.

“CDC to me appears to be writing hit pieces on the administration,” appointee Paul Alexander wrote, calling on Redfield to modify two already published reports that Alexander claimed wrongly inflated the risks of coronavirus to children and undermined Trump’s push to reopen schools. “CDC tried to report as if once kids get together, there will be spread and this will impact school re-opening . . . Very misleading by CDC and shame on them. Their aim is clear.”

Alexander also called on Redfield to halt all future MMWR reports until the agency modified its years-old publication process so he could personally review the entire report prior to publication, rather than a brief synopsis. Alexander, an assistant professor of health research at McMaster University near Toronto whom Caputo recruited this spring to be his scientific adviser, added that CDC needed to allow him to make line edits — and demanded an “immediate stop” to the reports in the meantime.

“The reports must be read by someone outside of CDC like myself, and we cannot allow the reporting to go on as it has been, for it is outrageous. Its lunacy,” Alexander told Redfield and other officials. “Nothing to go out unless I read and agree with the findings how they CDC, wrote it and I tweak it to ensure it is fair and balanced and ‘complete.'”

Caputo’s team has spent months clashing with scientific experts across the administration. Alexander this week tried to muzzle infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci from speaking about the risks of the coronavirus to children, and The Washington Post reported in July that Alexander had criticized the CDC’s methods and findings.

But public health experts told POLITICO that they were particularly alarmed that the CDC’s reports could face political interference, praising the MMWRs as essential to fighting the pandemic.

“It’s the go-to place for the public health community to get information that’s scientifically vetted,” said Jennifer Kates, who leads the Kaiser Family Foundation’s global health work. In an interview with POLITICO, Kates rattled off nearly a dozen examples of MMWR reports that she and other researchers have relied on to determine how Covid-19 has spread and who’s at highest risk, including reports on how the virus has been transmitted in nursing homes, at churches and among children.

Caputo’s team has spent months clashing with scientific experts across the administration. Alexander this week tried to muzzle infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci from speaking about the risks of the coronavirus to children, and The Washington Post reported in July that Alexander had criticized the CDC’s methods and findings.

But public health experts told POLITICO that they were particularly alarmed that the CDC’s reports could face political interference, praising the MMWRs as essential to fighting the pandemic.

“It’s the go-to place for the public health community to get information that’s scientifically vetted,” said Jennifer Kates, who leads the Kaiser Family Foundation’s global health work. In an interview with POLITICO, Kates rattled off nearly a dozen examples of MMWR reports that she and other researchers have relied on to determine how Covid-19 has spread and who’s at highest risk, including reports on how the virus has been transmitted in nursing homes, at churches and among children.

The close scrutiny continued across the summer with numerous flashpoints, the individuals added, with Caputo and other HHS officials particularly bristling about a CDC report that found the coronavirus spread among young attendees at an overnight camp in Georgia. Caputo, Alexander and others claimed that the timing of the August report was a deliberate effort to undermine the president’s push on children returning to schools in the fall.

The battles over delaying or modifying the reports have weighed on CDC officials and been a distraction in the middle of the pandemic response, said three individuals familiar with the situation. “Dr. Redfield has pushed back on this,” said one individual. “These are scientifically driven articles. He’s worked to shake some of them loose.”

Kates, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s global health expert, defended the CDC’s process as rigorous and said that there was no reason for politically appointed officials to review the work of scientists. “MMWRs are famously known for being very clear about their limitations as well as being clear for what they’ve found,” she said.

There is more at the link above.   Notice that what the political appointees were demanding was the denial of the science and the repeating and publishing of what ever tRump said.   The truth was making tRump’s lies look bad.  Especially notice the fight over letting the people know that children could not only get but also spread the virus and it hams / kills them also.    This was at a time when tRump was claiming kids were immune to it just to force parents back to work to keep the stock market happy.   He was  demanding and getting the governors to help him put kids at risk of illness and death for the wealthy’s financial gain.    Hugs

2 thoughts on “Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19

  1. Keith September 12, 2020 / 14:50

    Scottie, we should all remember a Brazil president went to jail for falsifying economic results. Here, the Trump Party would say “Boys will be boys. He is just rough around the edges.” Very little surprises me about how low the Trump White House will go. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Scottie September 13, 2020 / 04:09

      Hello Keith. I read that the conviction of the prior president is about to be overturned as it was politically made up, he never did the crime he was accused of. Jair Bolsonaro had his cohorts drum up fake charges so they could imprison the prior president who would have beaten Jair Bolsonaro. It seems he is now running again and if his crime is not overturned he will run to be vice president.

      Yes tRump goes low, but it shows how little he cares about people. Cannon fodder for him is all they are. He did not want the people , the doctors, the other politicians to know the truth. Hugs

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.