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The CDC And The Pandemic: A Look Inside The Public Health Agency46:44
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President Donald Trump (2nd L) stands next to US Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar (L), CDC Director Robert Redfield (2nd R), and CDC Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Safety (ADLSS) Dr. Steve Monroe during a tour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 6, 2020. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
President Donald Trump (2nd L) stands next to US Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar (L), CDC Director Robert Redfield (2nd R), and CDC Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Safety (ADLSS) Dr. Steve Monroe during a tour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 6, 2020. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Find the CDC's latest guidelines here. Read the AP's exclusive shelved CDC guidelines here.


The CDC was once one of the most respected public health agencies in the world. Now, it's barely visible in the middle of a pandemic. So what happened?

Guests

Charles Seife, professor of journalism at NYU. Former writer for Science Magazine and U.S. correspondent for the New Scientist. (@cgseife)

Dr. Richard Besser, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Acting CDC director from January 2009 to June 2009. He started at the CDC in 1991 working on food borne illness and returned to the CDC in 1998 as an infectious disease epidemiologist. (@DrRichBesser)

Dr. Pierre Rollin, he worked at the CDC for 26 years, until his retirement in January of 2019. Most recently, he was deputy branch chief of viral pathogens at the CDC.

From The Reading List

The Atlantic: "How Could the CDC Make That Mistake?" — "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is conflating the results of two different types of coronavirus tests, distorting several important metrics and providing the country with an inaccurate picture of the state of the pandemic. We’ve learned that the CDC is making, at best, a debilitating mistake: combining test results that diagnose current coronavirus infections with test results that measure whether someone has ever had the virus."

Slate: "The CDC Has Been on a Steady Decline. We’re Just Finally Noticing." — "The board game Pandemic probably isn’t the best choice for those looking for a bit of escapism while on lockdown, but if you want to try your hand at saving the world from an outbreak of a deadly disease, set up the map and put your character—scientist, research technician, quarantine expert—on the starting point: Atlanta, home of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

Washington Post: "Editorial: The CDC has gone silent. Its voice must be restored." — "What ever happened to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? The nation’s public health agency, long considered world-class, a source of expertise, rapid response and trusted communications in multiple disease outbreaks, has been sidelined in the largest public health emergency of the past century. The American people are worse off for it. The CDC and the voice of its scientists must be restored."

STAT News: "We need the real CDC back, and we need it now" — "As political leaders discuss relaxing social distancing restrictions and opening up the economy again, a majority of Americans are concerned about whether it is safe to do so. They have fundamental questions about how the nation is doing, what will happen after it opens up, whether we will be able to keep people safe, and could we have to shut down again."

Wired: "The Politics of Counting Things Is About to Explode" — "'There's nothing from the CDC that I can trust,' snapped US coronavirus task-force leader Deborah Birx at a White House meeting earlier this month. According to news reports, Birx was frustrated at the agency’s tally of coronavirus deaths, as she and colleagues worried that reported numbers were up to 25 percent too high."

Rolling Stone: "The Four Men Responsible For America’s COVID-19 Test Disaster" — "Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, flanked Donald Trump at the podium in the White House briefing room."

STAT News: "A CDC veteran asks: Why is the agency ‘sitting on the sidelines’ in the fight against Covid-19?" — "The public health challenge of our generation is right in front of us. SARS-CoV-2 appears to be the Andromeda strain that public health workers fear to see emerging. After many years of working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I’m perplexed, and saddened, that the agency seems to be sitting on the sidelines for this pandemic and is not building on the accumulated skills and experience from its past."

Bloomberg: "Dr. Richard Besser on CDC Response" — "'Certain communities [are] getting hit much harder than others.' Richard Besser, New Jersey's lead health expert, says more communication and guidance are needed from the CDC in the fight against Covid-19."

STAT News: "CDC director distances himself from Trump’s WHO criticism, saying the agencies ‘continue to have’ strong relationship" — "Just hours after President Trump announced his intention to cut off U.S. funding for the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus crisis, the leader of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demurred when asked if the global health agency had failed and if it was wise to halt funding the midst of a pandemic."

Business Insider: "Trump reportedly threatened to fire a top doctor at the CDC for sounding the alarm about the coronavirus in February" — "President Donald Trump threatened to fire Dr. Nancy Messonnier, a top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after her blunt warnings about the severity of COVID-19 caused the stock market to plunge in February, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday."

The Guardian: "Where is the CDC? How Trump sidelined the public health agency in a pandemic" — "Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the world’s premier public health agency, was stooped over the White House lectern."

This program aired on May 28, 2020.

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