Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump was blamed almost exclusively for the highly infectious virus from China. New evidence suggests that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s actions and inactions helped the virus wreak havoc on the United States.
Reuters reported Friday that the CDC “missed chances to spot COVID’s silent spread” early on in the pandemic when 57 people with the virus showed up at a Nebraska military base in February after being evacuated from Wuhan, China, where the virus was discovered. The people were quarantined, but the CDC refused to allow University of Nebraska Medical Center researchers from testing the group. The agency, according to a letter from the CDC, brought up consent issues from the quarantined group, worrying they may feel coerced into testing and therefore the test would be unethical.
“CDC does not approve this study,” a CDC official wrote. “Please discontinue all contact with the travelers for research purposes.”
The CDC also delayed testing the asymptomatic passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship after 318 passengers were evacuated due to the virus. Reuters found that “the agency failed at that time to make effective use of outside experts and appeared at times unprepared for the crisis on the ground, lacking adequate personal protective gear and ignoring established protocols.”
The outlet reported that it took another two months from the Nebraska quarantine before the CDC “expanded its testing guidelines to include all asymptomatic people.”
More from Reuters:
Critics have widely asserted that the CDC fumbled key decisions during the coronavirus scourge because then-President Donald Trump and his administration meddled in the agency’s operations and muzzled internal experts. The matter is now the subject of a congressional inquiry. Yet Reuters has found new evidence that the CDC’s response to the pandemic also was marred by actions – or inaction – by the agency’s career scientists and frontline staff.
At a crucial moment in the pandemic when Americans were quarantined after possible exposure to the virus abroad, the agency declined or resisted potentially valuable opportunities to study whether the disease could be spread by those without symptoms, according to previously undisclosed internal emails, other documents and interviews with key players.
Health experts and ethicists told Reuters that the CDC “should have proceeded given the fast-moving public health emergency.”
The center appeared to not even follow its 2017 rules that allowed testing in quarantine so long as there was “informed consent” and the ability to refuse.
Reuters also noted that “CDC scientists infamously botched the creation of a test for the coronavirus and took weeks trying to fix it, making widespread testing – well beyond those with symptoms – impossible during the pandemic’s first months.”
The CDC declined to comment to Reuters.
While the media spent the pandemic blaming Trump, plenty of mistakes were made that were outside his control, including the political decisions by governors to shut down their economies for a virus with a 96% survival rate for even the most vulnerable populations.