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CDC Virus Testing Guidance Was Posted Against Scientists’ Objections

  • September 18, 2020

The question of the C.D.C.’s independence and effectiveness as the nation’s top public health agency has taken on increasing urgency as the nation approaches 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic and Mr. Trump continues to criticize its scientists and disregard their assessments.

A new version of the testing guidance, expected to be posted Friday, has also not been cleared by the C.D.C.’s usual internal review for scientific documents and is being revised by officials at Health and Human Services, according to a federal official who was not authorized to speak to reporters about the matter.

Similarly, a document, arguing for “the importance of reopening schools,” was also dropped into the C.D.C. website by the Department of Health and Human Services in July and is sharply out of step with the C.D.C.’s usual neutral and scientific tone, the officials said.

The information comes mere days after revelations that political appointees at H.H.S. meddled with the C.D.C.’s vaunted weekly reports on scientific research.

“The idea that someone at H.H.S. would write guidelines and have it posted under the C.D.C. banner is absolutely chilling,” said Dr. Richard Besser, who served as acting director at the Centers for Disease Control in 2009.

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the agency during the Obama administration, said, “H.H.S. and the White House writing scientifically inaccurate statements such as ‘don’t test all contacts’ on C.D.C.’s website is like someone vandalizing a national monument with graffiti.”

The vast majority of C.D.C. documents are still carefully created and vetted and are valuable to the public, but having politically motivated messages mixed in with public health recommendations undermines the institution, Dr. Frieden said. “The graffiti makes the whole monument look pretty bad,” he said.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/17/health/coronavirus-testing-cdc.html

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