President Trump speaks at a press conference, surrounded by administration officials. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A slew of recent reporting suggests deep politicization of the Trump administration's coronavirus response.

Driving the news: The New York Times reported yesterday that Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo on Facebook accused career government scientists of "sedition" and said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a “resistance unit” that's trying to undermine Trump.

Politico first reported that Caputo and his team demanded to review the CDC's weekly scientific reports on the pandemic, sometimes complaining that the reports undermined Trump's optimistic messaging.

  • P0litico also recently reported that one of Caputo's teammates, Paul Alexander, has tried to weigh in on what Anthony Fauci, the government's top disease expert, should say in media interviews — often advising responses that contradict mainstream science.

Scott Atlas, a top medical adviser to Trump, has pushed a "herd immunity" response to the pandemic, WaPo reported, and has argued that the science of masks is unclear and that children can't spread the virus, per NYT.

  • In a tweet, Atlas said he "*never* advised the President to pursue a strategy of achieving herd immunity by allowing SARS2 to spread throughout the country."

The other side: HHS pointed to a tweet by Secretary Alex Azar that said the vaccine process "is driven completely by science and the data. The data will be reviewed by an independent board even before it is submitted to the [FDA]."

  • In response to the articles above, HHS repeatedly said it supports its personnel. Atlas has denied advocating for a herd immunity strategy.

The bottom line: It's one thing to spin things during an election year. It's another to push demonstrably false information that impacts the response to a once-in-a-generation pandemic.

Go deeper: Melinda Gates slams Trump's COVID-19 response

Go deeper

Sep 29, 2020 - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans won't take Trump's word on vaccine

Data: Axios/Ipsos survey; Note: Margin of error for the total sample is ±3.2%; Chart: Axios Visuals

Barely two in 10 Americans would take a first-generation coronavirus vaccine if President Trump told them it was safe — one of several new measures of his sinking credibility in the latest wave of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Details: Given eight scenarios and asked how likely they were to try the vaccine in each case, respondents said they'd be most inclined if their doctor vouched for its safety (62%), followed by insurance covering the full cost (56%) or the FDA saying it's safe (54%).

18 hours ago - World

U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Exeter College on Sept. 29. Photo: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

The U.K. reached a new high for total positive coronavirus cases this last week, per the country's Health Ministry, and reported a record number of COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, per the BBC.

Driving the news: Top scientific advisers warned last week that the U.K. could see up to 50,000 coronavirus cases per day by mid-October if current growth continues.

Trump and Biden clash over COVID: "It is what it is because you are who you are"

Joe Biden attacked President Trump at the presidential debate on Tuesday for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, accusing him of panicking and failing to prepare for the crisis when he was warned about it in February.

The big picture: "It is what it is because you are who you are," Biden said, alluding to an answer Trump gave in an interview with "Axios on HBO" when asked about the 150,000+ death toll from the coronavirus. Trump responded by claiming that Biden would not have shut down travel from China in the early days of the pandemic, and he defended his administration's mass production of ventilators and protective equipment.

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