Jun 4, 2020 - Health

Where the CDC went wrong with its coronavirus response

A general view of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Edward R. Roybal campus in Atlanta
Photo: Tami Chappell/AFP/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mishandled the coronavirus pandemic, sowing mistrust among health experts and the public, according to a sweeping report by the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's been reported that a faster and more organized response from the federal government could have saved thousands of lives.

The big picture: The Times' review of thousands of emails, in addition to interviews with more than 100 state and federal officials, public health experts, CDC employees and medical workers, paint a picture of confusion and mistakes.

What went wrong, according to the NYT:

  • Bad data: The agency's outdated systems collected inaccurate testing data and incomplete demographic information.
  • Staffing: The CDC's Division of Viral Diseases wasn't at full strength.
  • Political pressure: CDC director Robert Redfield had to juggle varying demands and wishes from President Trump, who has lashed out at the agency.
  • Unclear guidance: CDC's guidelines have left elected officials and the public confused about the reopening process, in part because of caveats and changes designed to appease the White House.
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