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Leaked documents reveal how Trump White House ‘muzzled’ the CDC’s early COVID-19 warnings

President Donald J. Trump, joined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, left, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Stephan Monroe, associate director of the CDC, right, speaks with reporters during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday, March 6, 2020, in Atlanta. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

New documents obtained by CNN show how the Trump White House shut down the Centers for Disease Control’s early attempts to sound the alarm about COVID-19’s spread throughout the United States.


Specifically, the documents show how the CDC in early March wanted to issue a public alert for air travelers about the dangers of flying during the COVID-19 pandemic, but then the White House delayed issuing it by a week, which CNN describes as “crucial time lost when about 66,000 European travelers were streaming into American airports every day.”

Six current CDC employees told CNN that this incident was just one of many in which the White House put politics above public safety.

“We’ve been muzzled,” one CDC official told the network. “What’s tough is that if we would have acted earlier on what we knew and recommended, we would have saved lives and money.”

Another CDC employee accused the administration of making scientists subordinate to the president’s reelection campaign.

“The message we received in previous administrations was, you guys are the scientists,” the employee said. “That’s not the case this time. If the science that we are offering up contradicts a specific policy goal, then we are the problem.”

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