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article imageWhite House accused of using 'Deliberate misinformation campaign'

By Karen Graham     Sep 29, 2020 in Politics
Top White House officials, including the coordinator of the coronavirus task force, pressured leaders at the CDC to downplay the risks of sending children back to school in the midst of a pandemic to support President Donald Trump's stance on the virus.
The New York Times is reporting that documents and interviews show how for weeks, the White House tried to press public health officials to fall in line with Trump's agenda on reopening the economy and schools by downplaying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, especially among school-age children.
The effort to undermine the science included Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, and officials working for Vice President Mike Pence, who led the task force. The continued pressure on the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), considered the world’s premier public health agency, left officials at the agency alarmed.
Even Marc Short, the vice-president's Chief of Staff was involved in the pressure tactics, repeatedly asking Pence's top aide, Olivia Troye to get the C.D.C. to produce more reports and charts showing a decline in coronavirus cases among young people.
Troye confirmed to CNN on Monday that she was a former top adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, and that the New York Times story was accurate.
The New York Times report comes on the heels of a new CDC study this week that shows older children - between the ages of 12 and 17 - were twice as likely to catch the coronavirus and spread it at school and at home. The CDC report also notes that since March, 277,285 COVID-19 cases in children have been reported.
In a separate study, commissioned by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association - a dramatic rise in coronavirus cases among children was seen in recent weeks.
On Monday, Troye told CNN's Chris Cuomo: "Unfortunately, this was an effort, you know, at times where I would get blindsided, where there would be junior staffers being tasked to find different data for charts to show that the virus wasn't as bad for certain populations, ages or demographics."
Troye also confirmed an instance in June in which she and junior staffers, pushed by Pence's chief of staff Marc Short, tried to get around the CDC in finding data on Covid-19 that would better support President Donald Trump's stance that Covid-19 poses little danger to children and that schools should reopen. Troye described what was going on behind the scenes as being very challenging - calling it a "nightmare."
"I think you've seen from the beginning the President's narrative has been 'everything's fine. Everything's OK. Time to get back to normal. Let's get the economy going again.'"
"Trump told the governors, 'you need to open the schools. You need to try to make it seem like everything's OK when in reality it's not.' I think it's been because his response has been so broken along the way, it was to tell anything but the truth," Troye said.
More about White house, CDC, misinformation campaign, Dr Birx, Back to School
 
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