Feb 9, 2021 - Health

CDC chief: Trump-appointed aides "politically swayed" some COVID guidelines

Rochelle Walensky, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to head the Centers for Disease Control, speaks during a news conference at the Queen Theater December 08
CDC director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

CDC director Rochelle Walensky told the Washington Post on Monday that "a vast minority" of the agency's COVID-19 pandemic response guidelines had been "politically swayed" by some staff appointed by former President Trump.

Driving the news: Walensky said CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat was leading a review into the matter and that the agency was updating affected guidelines.

Between the lines: While Walensky did not cite specific examples in her interview, the Post notes that CDC officials had previously complained of political interference from the Trump administration on mask-wearing guidelines and the reopening of churches.

  • In December, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the chair of the oversight subcommittee tasked with examining the U.S. pandemic response, accused then-CDC chief Robert Redfield of concealing evidence that a Trump appointee attempted to influence the agency's scientific case studies.
  • Politico reported in September that Trump-appointed health department aides interfered with the CDC's weekly COVID-19 reports "in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports' authors and water down their communications to health professionals."
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