Olivia Troye, a former advisor to Pence who worked in the White House coronavirus task force, told The Times that Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short had repeatedly asked him to produce more data showing a decrease in cases among young people. Troye left the White House in August and has since become aThe Times also reported that Birx pushed the CDC to include data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, which said prolonged school closures could affect the mental health and argued that transmission of the virus among family members was low. The Times obtained an email from Birx to CDC director Robert Redfield asking him to incorporate the document as a “background” in the CDC’s guidelines for reopening schools. the president and the administration’s response to the coronavirus.
Over the summer, President Trump has repeatedly argued that schools should be reopened for in-person learning. At an event in July, he said: “We want to open them quickly, beautifully, in the fall”.
A second former CDC official involved in drafting the guidelines told CBS News Birx played an important role in shaping the message surrounding the reopening of schools, and pushed to focus on the risk factors involved for children. if they stayed at home rather than the risks of going back to school. . This official said the White House “diced and diced our data to fit its narrative.”
This person said scientists at the CDC were most alarmed by the “preamble” to the guidelines posted on the website, which highlighted the potential negative impact on children if schools do not reopen quickly. Although the CDC incorporated some of the data on this into their own guidelines, they were against making it the primary focus.
Brian Morgenstern, the deputy White House press secretary, said in a statement to CBS News that the president “relies on the advice of all of his senior health officials who agree it is in the best interests of the to reopen schools safely, and that the relative risks posed by the virus to young people are outweighed by the risks of keeping children out of school indefinitely.
A White House official touted Birx’s close relationship with Redfield, telling CBS News that “the idea of Dr Birx pressuring Dr Redfield to do something he was not familiar with. ‘deal seems absurd at first glance’.
“A conversation or comments exchanged between friends and colleagues is hardly some kind of politically charged request,” the official said.
Redfield has been at odds with the White House in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the president contradicted Redfield after the CDC director said that a vaccine would be widely available in the second or third quarter of next year, saying Redfield was “confused” and “had done a mistake “. NBC News also reported this week that Redfield criticized Dr Scott Atlas, a new member of the coronavirus task force.
“Everything he says is wrong,” Redfield said during a phone call overheard by NBC News.
Fin Gomez, Weijia Jiang, Paula Reid and Kristin Brown contributed to this report.