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HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

House Democrats are launching an investigation into how Trump's political appointees pressured officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "to block the publication of accurate scientific reports" on COVID-19, according to a letter first obtained by Politico.

Details: Citing previous reporting that Trump aides "openly complained" that the CDC's reports would undermine the president's positive message, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and the other Democratic members of the subcommittee on the coronavirus wrote to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC director Robert Redfield to request "transcribed interviews and documents."

What they're saying: "With nearly 200,000 Americans killed and hundreds more dying each day from the coronavirus pandemic, the public needs and deserves truthful scientific information so they can keep themselves and their families healthy," Clyburn and the other Democrats wrote.

  • "Yet in discussing the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, President Trump admitted, 'I wanted to always play it down' and, 'I still like playing it down.' We are gravely concerned by reports showing that the President’s political appointees at HHS have sought to help him downplay the risks of the coronavirus crisis by attempting to alter, delay, and block critical scientific reports from CDC."

Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official and now the main spokesperson at HHS has defended the aides' actions, telling Politico that "[b]uried in this good [CDC] work are sometimes stories which seem to purposefully mislead and undermine the President’s Covid response with what some scientists label as poor scholarship — and others call politics disguised in science."

Go deeper

Health expert: Black and Latino homelessness will spike without pandemic relief package

Photo: Axios

Black and Latino Americans are facing “terrible financial problems” due to COVID-19, health expert Robert Blendon said on Tuesday at a virtual Axios event.

Why it matters: The pandemic has hit communities of color harder than white Americans, and the population of homeless Black Americans and Latinos will only increase if there is no emergency federal aid, Brendon said.

UPS and Ford prepare for vaccine distribution with ultra-cold freezers

Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty

UPS and Ford Motor Company have both announced they ordered portable, ultra-low temperature freezers for storing coronavirus vaccines when they become available.

Why it matters: While the promising vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is 95% effective, it can only be stored at or around -70 degrees Celsius.

Nov 24, 2020 - Health

France to end second lockdown after three weeks

Photo: Marc Piasecki via Getty

France will begin a three-stage plan to phase out its second COVID-19 lockdown of the year, President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday.

Why it matters: Last week’s virus cases across the country amounted to one-third the number of cases seen in early November, the New York Times reports. Health experts have warned France not to repeat its mistakes from the spring as the nation moves to ease restrictions.