New York: With barely a fortnight to go before the US 2020 election, the Donald Trump administration has inserted political operatives at America's top public health agency to control potentially bombshell leaks on the coronavirus which might endanger the Trump ticket.
The latest attempt to keep the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) mum comes at a time when Joe Biden leads Trump by nearly 9 points nationally and by at least 4 points in half a dozen battleground states.
This is based on the latest poll of polls by RealClearPolitics. Both Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris have put the Trump administration's chaotic response to the pandemic at the core of their public messaging.
New revelations, first reported by The Associated Press, show that two appointees with zero public health background have been planted at the CDC with a view to "keeping an eye on Dr. Robert Redfield". Redfield is CDC Director.
The two appointees' roles are being described by the newswire's sources as "a mystery" when they arrived on site. One of them, Nina Witkofsky, is now listed as acting chief of staff on the CDC site and the other - Trey Moeller - has reportedly begun "sitting in on scientific meetings".
America accounts for more than 218,000 dead from the virus in nine months since its arrival in the homeland. More than 7.4 million have been sickened by it - Trump too - and the White House is hoping that a clutch of last-ditch band aids at the CDC may help stop the avalanche of bad news.
Full circle is the only way to put it. This is exactly how it started back in late January, 2020, when Trump first got to know about the virus. He wanted to "play it down", he told Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, even as the CDC said it was preparing "as if it was a pandemic". Stock markets tanked, Trump was enraged, the CDC was sidelined, the Trump coronavirus show began and the rest is a uniquely American crisis.
To be clear, the CDC created its own mess early on, botching the first wave of test kits. Soon after, Trump's coterie began making line-by-line edits to official health guidance coming from the CDC, undercutting anything at all that does not align with the president's political agenda.
Top infectious-disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci, who has avoided direct quotes on politics for the longest time, broke his silence on CBS News Radio, framing the Rose Garden ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett as a "superspreader event." "It was in a situation where people were crowded together, not wearing masks," Fauci said. That tidal wave of medical speak continues unabated on the same social platforms that Trump embraces.
BY NIKHILA NATARAJAN
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