Four previous directors of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention accused President Donald Trump of politicizing the agency and botching the U.S. pandemic response.
Tom Frieden, Jeffrey Koplan, David Satcher, and Richard Besser, who altogether ran the CDC for about 15 years, slammed Trump in a joint op-ed published Tuesday in The Washington Post. The former directors argued that Trump had failed the U.S. in part because case numbers are higher across the country than those reported by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“As America begins the formidable task of getting our kids back to school and all of us back to work safely amid a pandemic that is only getting worse, public health experts face two opponents: covid-19, but also political leaders and others attempting to undermine the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the public health experts began, referencing the Trump administration’s push to reopen schools in the fall. “As the debate last week around reopening schools more safely showed, these repeated efforts to subvert sound public health guidelines introduce chaos and uncertainty while unnecessarily putting lives at risk.”
The former directors went on to tout China’s reported cases relative to the United States. The coronavirus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and spread globally to nations unprepared to face such a disease in large part because the CCP initially hid the outbreak. The Chinese government allowed an estimated 5 million people to leave Wuhan before shutting down the city.
“China, using the same mitigation tools available to us and with a far larger population, has had just a tiny fraction of the 3.1 million cases reported here. The United States now has more cases and deaths than any other country and the sixth-highest rate of any large country in the world — and we are gaining on the other five. The United States is home to a quarter of the world’s reported coronavirus infections and deaths, despite being home to only 4.4 percent of the global population,” the former CDC directors wrote.
The U.S. intelligence officials have reportedly warned the White House that China is intentionally underreporting the virus’s spread and fatality rate. Based on the evidence, Trump has said China’s death toll from the disease is “far higher” than that of the United States.
The former directors also asserted that the pandemic in the U.S. is worsening as “willful disregard for public health guidelines” leads “to a sharp rise in infections and deaths.” It remains unclear what data the group is referring to. Total positive cases in the United States are rising as the disease spreads in the South and West. Weekly deaths from the disease in the U.S. continue to fall, however.
As noted by the CDC:
Based on death certificate data, the percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia, influenza or COVID-19 (PIC) decreased from 6.9% during week 26 to 5.5% during week 27, representing the eleventh week of a declining percentage of deaths due to PIC. The percentage is currently below the epidemic threshold but will likely change as more death certificates are processed, particularly for recent weeks.