Failures at the C.D.C.

Originally posted on June 3, 2020

There was an article today (June 3, 2020) in the NYT that detailed some of the failings of the CDC. The gist of the article was that the CDC, which had previously been widely considered as the premier health agency in the world, had largely bungled its response to the coronavirus pandemic. The failures surrounding our ability to accurately test for the virus were truly catastrophic. As I read the article two aspects relate pretty directly to Trump and his incompetence.

The first of these is the leadership that Trump put in place. Trump is so difficult to work with that he has trouble hiring and then keeping truly competent and non-corrupt people. The CDC is currently directed by Dr. Robert Redfield. He had NO experience leading a government agency and was somewhat controversial. The CDC’s earlier director, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, resigned over conflicts of interest. Their current boss, the secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, was also a recent replacement. Azar did have previous experience as a government manager, but most recently had worked for Eli Lilly – the fox is now guarding the henhouse, eh? In turn, Azar had replaced Tom Price, who resigned after the HHS IG discovered he had been traveling on government money. This constant turnover no doubt affected the CDC’s ability to better control the pandemic.

But even if the CDC had been run competently the director, whoever he/she was, would have had to contend with Trump. From the NYT article:

Even as the virus tested the C.D.C.’s capacity to respond, the agency and its director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, faced unprecedented challenges from President Trump, who repeatedly wished away the pandemic. His efforts to seize the spotlight from the public health agency reflected the broader patterns of his erratic presidency: public condemnations on Twitter, a tendency to dismiss findings from scientists, inconsistent policy or decision-making and a suspicion that the “deep state” inside the government is working to force him out of office.

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