Biden CDC Director Unf*cking Agency From Trump Years, Thank God

Some of the bad, fake, anti-science shit the Trump administration put the CDC's name on is gone now, and the rest will be deleted and replaced with good information in coming days. Thank you, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, who promised to fix it, and now she is.

The Washington Postreported late Monday:

Federal health officials have identified several controversial pandemic recommendations released during the Donald Trump administration that they say were "not primarily authored" by staff and don't reflect the best scientific evidence, based on a review ordered by its new director.

The review identified three documents that had already been removed from the agency's website: One, released in July, delivered a strong argument for school reopenings and downplayed health risks. A second set of guidelines about the country's reopening was released in April by the White House and was far less detailed than what had been drafted by the CDC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A third guidance issued in August discouraged the testing of people without covid-19 symptoms even when they had contact with infected individuals. That was replaced in September after experts inside and outside the agency raised alarms.

One of the saddest things about the tail end of the Trump administration, after the pandemic hit, is the way they moved to undermine and destroy the freaking Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, perhaps the one agency we and the rest of the world sort of assumed could always be trusted. And it really did happen again and again.

It was weird back in April when the CDC released guidance for a Smithfield meatpacking plant in South Dakota that seemed considerably watered down. It wasn't like a normal CDC report, telling people what to do based on science. It was much more along the lines of "If you maybe feel like doing such-and-such, that would be nice, but don't strain any muscles trying, it's not like we're the CDC or anything." Turns out there was an original version of the report that did tell the meatpackers what to do, and then-CDC Director Robert Redfield's office was the one that got all that mean declaratory language taken out.

It was weird in July when the CDC issued guidance on "The Importance of Reopening of America's Schools this Fall," yes, that's really what they called it, like common kids who don't read good or do other stuff good either. It didn't even sound like it had come from the CDC building, and that's because it didn't. The Trump administration just stuck CDC's name on it.

The July school reopening guidance was controversial because it was released weeks after Trump criticized the agency's earlier recommendations as being "very tough and expensive." The opening preambleextolling the importance of in-school classes was presented as a CDC document, but the agency was not part of the discussion or drafting, Walensky said. That guidance was removed in October.

"This is something that I will not allow as CDC director," Walensky said. "The processes we have in place moving forward will ensure this cannot and will not occur."

It was weird when the CDC suddenly said in August that please disregard everything they've been saying about testing, because maybe coronavirus testing isn't necessary for asymptomatic people after all, which sounded a lot like Donald Trump's constant refrain about how if you don't do coronavirus testing, then you don't have coronavirus cases!

It was weird when we got reporting that Trump Health and Human Services spox Michael Caputo and other political appointee mouthbreathers at HHS had been personally ordering CDC to manipulate its reports on COVID-19 to make them match up with Donald Trump's happy talk and lies.

And it seems like the whole time, Redfield, who at times was considered one of the semi-adults in the Trump administration, just let it happen, or outright ordered it to please the White House. And he just stuck around, even when he was caught in flagrante delicto.

The Post notes that despite how this new report is basically all about how Donald Trump fucked up the CDC, his name doesn't appear in it, and it's extremely not political at all. It was prepared by Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director at the CDC, and it's really very dry, as you'd expect from what's supposed to be the premier agency of its kind in the world.

Schuchat's "general observations" actually identified more problems than just the three reports mentioned above. More summary from the Post:

[T]hereview provides official confirmation of what has been widely reported in press accounts at the time — that political appointees ordered revisions to critical CDC guidance. In addition to the three documents not written by CDC staff, the review also cited recommendations that should have used stronger language and that should have cited supporting scientific briefs. [...]

The review [...] found instances in which guidance used weaker language, such as "considerations" and "if feasible," even though evidence supported a stronger recommendation.

"I can't speak to how the decisions were made or why the language was less directive than we wanted it to be," Walensky said. "We need to have language that needs to be clear when the evidence base is sufficiently strong."

If you want to get into all that dry-ass shit, knock yourself out.

As for Wonkette, we are pleased to report to you that there are new sheriffs in town at the CDC, good sheriffs, SCIENCE-BASED sheriffs, and they are fucking fixing it, so if you don't want to read CDC reports, you, at least for now, do not have to.

[Washington Post / CDC memo]

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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the managing editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

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