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Robert Redfield. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Outgoing CDC director Robert Redfield told NPR on Friday that he was proud of the agency's response to the coronavirus pandemic and that he disagreed with his incoming successor's conclusion that the "gold standard for the nation's public health — has been tarnished."

Why it matters: The CDC has faced sharp criticism throughout its nearly year-long response to the coronavirus pandemic over several issues, including some of its messaging and guidance, which has been described as inconsistent and confusing.

What he's saying: "I'm actually very proud of the response that CDC has done. I think if I have one criticism that I do believe is significant is the importance of consistency and unity of message." Redfield told NPR's "All Things Considered."

  • "I think it would have been, you know, preferred as a nation in April when we recommended [face coverings] — and I started wearing a mask and all of us at CDC did and the doctors within the coronavirus task force did — it would have been very helpful if that was reflected by civic leadership throughout our nation ... rather than, unfortunately, what appeared to be, this critical public health measure somehow got used as a political football," Redfield added.
  • When asked by NPR's Mary Louise Kelly how he would respond to an opinion piece in the New York Times by Rochelle Walensky, his incoming successor, in which she wrote that her team of "scientists will have to work very hard to restore public trust in the C.D.C., at home and abroad, because it has been undermined over the last year," Redfield said:
    • "That's just not true. The men and women at CDC are highly respected across this nation and around the world. Clearly, there's no doubt that the lack of reinforcement and support from some individuals in the administration of the public health message had impact. But CDC continues to be the premier public health agency in the world."

Redfield also warned that the U.S. is "about to be in the worst of it" when it comes to the pandemic.

  • "I think if you'd listened to my comments in August and September, I told people that I really thought that the, December, January and February were going to be the roughest time this nation's ever, ever experienced from a public health point of view in the history of our nation."

The bottom line: "This has been one of the greatest crises that this nation's had. There'll be plenty of time, I'm sure, in the years to come to figure out who could have done something better. All I can say from the time I got to be CDC director is that I did the best that I can," Redfield concluded.

Go deeper: Listen to the interview on NPR

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Updated 38 mins ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.