“Although their role has diminished during the current crisis, they play a very important role in all of this,” she said. New administration to rebuild public health and data infrastructure, re-establish CDC staff in outposts overseas, and return “control to the CDC”
Within the CDC, there is a palpable sense of relief and a determination to return to an apolitical identity, according to four senior scientists who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared for their work.
“We couldn’t afford to be politicized right now,” said one of the scientists, who is involved in the agency’s pandemic response. “We weren’t going to spend time licking wounds and worrying about what was wrong in the past.”
Another senior CDC scientist said, “Sometimes you feel like you have to say, ‘I don’t care what’s going on, I have to do this.'”
Until the pandemic, the CDC was widely regarded as the world’s leading public health agency. But the Trump administration’s muzzling of its scientists and the politicization of some of its advice has crippled its efforts to answer critical questions, experts say, including how schools, churches and businesses should reopen and how Americans could better protect themselves and their families.
The turnaround began after the Trump administration meddled in the CDC’s much-vaunted weekly newsletters, the weekly morbidity and mortality reports, according to Dr Thomas R. Frieden, who ran the agency under President Barack Obama. .
Political appointees attempted to revise, delay or even stop the publication of the reports, sparking public outcry and condemnation in a congressional hearing. Dust precipitated the swift departure of Michael Caputo, a politician who had accused CDC scientists of sedition, and Dr. Paul Alexander, a science adviser hired to help Mr. Caputo.