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article imageOp-Ed: CDC reports are being altered by HHS to fit Trump's agenda

By Karen Graham     Sep 12, 2020 in Politics
Trump-appointed communications officials at the US Department of Health and Human Services pushed to change language of weekly science reports released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so as to align with President Trump's agenda.
Michael Caputo is a former Trump campaign official who is enjoying his appointment as the spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services - I believe they call it a "political favor" - even though he has no medical or scientific background,
He was installed in April, and it looks like his main job is to make sure the nation's primary health agency - the CDC - is only releasing information that jives with what the orange-faced buffoon who presides over the Oval Office deems appropriate in keeping his followers from knowing the truth.
The CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR) are authored by career scientists and serve as the main vehicle for the agency to inform doctors, researchers and the general public about any and all medical and health-related subjects, including how Covid-19 is spreading and who is at risk.
Believe it or not, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a Mission Statement and A Pledge to the American People.
1. Be a diligent steward of the funds entrusted to our agency
2. Provide an environment for intellectual and personal growth and integrity
3. Base all public health decisions on the highest quality scientific data that is derived openly and objectively
4. Place the benefits to society above the benefits to our institution
5. Treat all persons with dignity, honesty, and respect
And according to Politico, the CDC's weekly MMWR reports have gone out like clockwork for years, and are read by thousands of doctors, nurses and even journalists like me, And more importantly, the work of the CDC has always been viewed as a cornerstone of the nation's public health work for decades.
However, it has been learned from emails reviewed by Politico, as well as three people reportedly familiar with the situation, 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 also tried to retroactively change the agency's reports because Caputo said they "wrongly related the risks associated with 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 the emails.
Dr. Robert Redfield speaks on the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020.
Dr. Robert Redfield speaks on the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020.
The White House
Digital Journal has reported on any and all guidance reports and any changes to those reports being issued by the CDC over the past several months. The first change in guidance came about on April 8, when a c"highly unusual guidance" on two malarial drugs that Trump has been pushing to treat the coronavirus was suddenly removed from the CDC's website almost as quickly as it went up.
A CDC statement says the original guidance had been requested by doctors and the White House virus task force to be reviewed and posted "as quickly as possible." Today, the CDC section on Therapeutic Options reads: "There are no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the [FDA] to prevent or treat COVID-19."
HHS political appointee Paul Alexander told CNN News he has regularly added his input -- often interpreted by CDC officials as political in nature -- to weekly scientific reports intended to track the ongoing coronavirus pandemic response. The development marks the latest example of political interference by administration appointees at the nation's health agencies.
"CDC to me appears to be writing hit pieces on the administration," Paul Alexander wrote in May, calling on CDC Chief 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."
But here's the kicker - Alexander - an assistant professor of health research at McMaster University near Toronto whom Caputo recruited - also called on Redfield to halt all future MMWR reports until he personally reviewed them himself, adding that the CDC needed to allow him to make line edits — and demanded an "immediate stop" to the reports in the meantime.
Added to that, Trump loyalists and all his hand-picked administration officials are frustrated that the CDC is made up of mostly career, not political employees, which they believe is not working in the best interest of the President.
On Saturday, Joe Biden's deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield called the move a "repugnant betrayal" and told CNN in a statement that it is "further proof that the Trump Administration has been systematically putting political optics ahead of the safety of the American people."
Bedingfield went on to say in the press release that, “Donald Trump has concealed the truth for his perceived political benefit, in historic acts of malpractice — while failing to come to grips with the severity of this pandemic or the economic carnage it is creating, and refusing to be honest about what needs to be done to win this battle."
"Trump’s failure has left us with six million infected, millions more unemployed, and the worst outbreak in the developed world,” she added. “We deserve so much better.”
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about CDC weekly reports, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, Michael Caputo, health and human services, Criminal
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