From at least Sept. 24 to Sept. 30, the CDC stopped updating new information on health guidelines and recommendations, the sources said. A review of the CDC website by ABC News shows a schedule that supports the lack of updated information.
A CDC source familiar with the COVID response called the halt to the flow of information to the American public a “moratorium,” adding: “Scientists are prevented from updating the CDC website with new information, COVID recommendations and policies. A separate source confirmed that updates to the CDC guidelines are not currently released, but disapproved of the categorization of a “moratorium” and instead insisted that “the agency’s management is ensuring just that the review process is followed ”.
“If updates are made to existing guidelines or if new guidelines are made, the CDC requires each article to have approved talking points and perhaps a summary,” CDC employees and scientists learned Wednesday morning. , according to a source who was on the conference call.
The source told ABC News: “We know we have new science, but updates based on new and emerging science are not updating or cannot be shared,” including recommendations of the CDC on best practices and tips on how to protect yourself and others from and spreading COVID. ”
This new requirement will create a backlog of information from more than a week ago, the sources say.
A source told ABC News in the past few days that more specific testing guidelines for nursing homes have been approved and have yet to be released. This delay is in stark contrast to the previous action, when tips were posted quickly, the source added.
“If this information is true, it is truly scary. Political interference with the CDC is one of the main reasons our response to this pandemic has been such a disaster, ”said Dr Richard Besser, former acting director of the CDC and current chairman of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation . “The CDC is one of the world’s leading public health agencies with some of the best infectious disease scientists and experts – but the CDC has been prevented from playing the lead role that is essential during a public health crisis. ”
“Their leaders have been prevented from communicating directly with the American people,” he continued. “Without this direct communication, it is impossible to develop and maintain trust. As a result, thousands of American lives have been lost – especially in communities of color, which have been hit hardest – and trust in scientists and the public in our nation’s healthcare facilities has eroded. ”
Contacted by ABC News, a senior CDC spokesperson insisted, “The CDC has rigorous systems in place to ensure that all scientific information it shares is both accurate and has been fully reviewed by subject matter experts in all relevant disciplines within the CDC prior to their public release. The senior spokesperson added, “Last week concerns about the transmission language of COVID-19 led to the review of the“ How COVID-19 Spread ”webpage without proper internal technical review. This forum, along with a few others, led to a review of our process and strengthened criteria for reviewing all guidelines and updates before they are posted on the CDC website. ”
The CDC was criticized for transparency earlier this month after posting advice on the virus’ ‘possible’ aerial spread to remove it from the CDC website days later.
In response to the airborne post, CDC deputy director for infectious diseases Jay Butler told the Washington Post that the post was made in error. “Unfortunately, a first draft of the revision was written without any technical review,” he said.
Regarding this latest slowdown in information released to the public, the CDC source said: “We don’t need politicians to tell scientists that they shouldn’t let people know things that can help them or save lives ”, and went on to stress this point. Are there any safeguards within the agency already in place that prevent the disclosure of bad information.
This is not the first time the Trump administration has been accused of slowing down or modifying information released by the CDC relating to the pandemic.
ABC News has not independently confirmed the Politico report.
« [The assistant secretary for public affairs] clears virtually all public records for all of its divisions, including the CDC, ”Michael Caputo, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services currently on leave, confirmed to ABC News at the time.
“Our intention is to make sure that evidence, science-based data, drives policy through this pandemic – not subsequent deep state motives in the bowels of the CDC,” Caputo said.
Caputo took a leave of absence from his HHS post earlier this month after making public comments attacking the CDC and accusing it of having a “resistance unit” against the president.
Asked about the administration’s response to the pandemic during the first presidential debate on Tuesday night, Trump reiterated that his administration had done a “great job” in handling the crisis.