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President Trump calls on reporters during a news conference with White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

More than 1,000 current and former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemic intelligence officers have signed an open letter, decrying "the ominous politicization" of the agency throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The CDC is typically at the forefront of the U.S. response to public health crises, but the agency has largely been sidelined during the COVID-19 outbreak, with the White House attempting to control messaging, which, at times, contradicts scientific evidence.

What they're saying: "We hereby express our concern about the ominous politicization and silencing of the nation’s health protection agency during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," the letter, which was first published in May and recently surpassed 1,000 signatures, reads.

  • "In previous public health crises, CDC provided the best available information and straightforward recommendations directly to the public. It was widely respected for effectively synthesizing and applying scientific evidence from epidemiologists and biomedical researchers at CDC and worldwide."
  • "Its historic credibility was based on incomparable expertise and 70+ years of institutional memory. That focus and organization is hardly recognizable today," the letter, so far signed by 1,044 people, states.
  • "The absence of national leadership on COVID-19 is unprecedented and dangerous."
  • "Inconsistent contact tracing efforts are confined within each state’s borders — while coronavirus infections sadly are not. Such chaos is what CDC customarily avoided by its long history of collaboration with state and local health authorities in developing national systems for disease surveillance and coordinated control."
  • "CDC should be at the forefront of a successful response to this global public health emergency. We urgently call upon the American people to demand and our nation’s leaders to allow CDC to resume its indispensable role."

The other side: A Trump administration official told WSJ that "the CDC occupies a critical seat on the (coronavirus) task force, which is made up of public health leaders with an array of valuable expertise."

Go deeper: Read the full letter by the epidemic intelligence service officers

Go deeper

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: The good and bad news about antibody therapies — Fauci: Hotspots have materialized across "the entire country."
  2. World: Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of cases.
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
  5. Technology: The pandemic isn't slowing tech.
  6. Travel: CDC replaces COVID-19 cruise ban with less restrictive "conditional sailing order."
  7. Sports: High school football's pandemic struggles.
  8. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.
11 hours ago - Health

Fauci: COVID-19 hotspots have materialized across "the entire country"

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Graeme Jennings/AFP via Getty Images

The United States is "seeing hotspots literally throughout the entire country," with a countrywide average of 70,000 COVID-19 cases per day, NIAID director Anthony Fauci told the Silicon Valley Leadership Group's annual forum Friday.

Driving the news: The U.S. hit another grim milestone on Friday, with the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassing 9 million as new infections surge across the country, per data from Johns Hopkins University.

16 hours ago - World

Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of COVID-19 cases

Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Photo: THIERRY ROGE/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Belgium is enforcing a strict lockdown starting Sunday amid rising coronavirus infections, hospital admissions and a surge of deaths, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday.

Why it matters: De Croo said the government saw no choice but to lock down "to ensure that our health care system does not collapse." Scientists and health officials said deaths have doubled every six days, per the Guardian.