Trump Loyalists tried to influence C.D.C. Virus Reports.
Trump appointees at the Health and Human Services Department have meddled in the C.D.C.'s weekly disease reports.
Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services have repeatedly asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to revise, delay and even scuttle reports on the coronavirus that they believed were unflattering to President Trump.
Current and former senior health officials with direct knowledge of phone calls, emails and other communication between the agencies confirmed on Saturday a report in Politico late Friday that the C.D.C.'s public Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports have been targeted by senior officials in the Health and Human Services' communications office.
The reports, which one former top health official called the "holiest of the holy" in agency literature, are written largely for scientists and public health experts, to update them on trends in infectious diseases, not only the coronavirus but also other outbreaks around the country. They are guarded so closely by agency staff members that political appointees only see them just before they are published.
The reports became the subject of intense scrutiny this summer by Michael Caputo, a Republican political operative and former Trump campaign official the White House installed as the top spokesman at the department in April, despite his having no background in health.
Mr. Caputo himself said on Saturday that Politico's report was largely accurate, but he denied that there was any overt pressure involved. He said that the primary person involved in critiquing the reports, Paul Alexander, an assistant professor of health research at McMaster University in Canada whom he hired to advise him on the science of the pandemic, simply offered direct reactions to the drafts of the C.D.C.'s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports.
"He digs into these M.M.W.R.s and makes his position known, and his position isn't popular with the career scientists sometimes," Mr. Caputo said of Dr. Alexander. "That's called science. Disagreement is science. Nobody has been ever ordered to do anything. Some changes have been accepted, most have been rejected. It's my understanding that that's how science is played."
In an email obtained by Politico and confirmed to The Times by a health official with direct knowledge of the message, Dr. Alexander accused C.D.C. scientists of trying to "hurt the president," referring to the weekly reports as "hit pieces on the administration." Dr. Alexander asked Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the C.D.C. director, to edit reports that had already been published, which he believed overstated the risks of the virus for children and undermined the administration's efforts to encourage school reopenings.
The meddling from Washington concerned Dr. Redfield, according to one former senior health official, who often pushed back when Mr. Caputo called to pester him about the reports.
Michael Caputo, the health department's top spokesman, with the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, at the White House in May.Credit...Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
New York Times, September 13, 2020
Voices4America Post Script. Enough is enough. #TrumpLiedPeopleDied Now #MoreLiesMoreDie Throw Trump and the GOP bums out! Share the truth. N.D., S.D., Mo., Ark., Iowa, Okla, Wis. Tenn. Ala. Neb. Kan. S.C.are the new hot spots. Enough! #BidenHarris2020WASHINGTON MEDDLING Read more about efforts by political appointees to influence the C.D.C.'s infectious disease reports.
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