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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

Dec 23, 2020 - Health

Over 1 million people in U.S. have received the COVID-19 vaccine

Photo: Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

More than 1 million people in the U.S. have received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine as of Wednesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: The U.S. began its largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history last week as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths surged nationwide.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker
Dec 23, 2020 - World

New York City will enforce quarantine for U.K. travelers with visits from sheriff's deputies

Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

All U.K. travelers going to New York City will now be required to quarantine or face a daily $1,000 fine, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Although all people are required to quarantine when traveling into the city, U.K travelers specifically will receive visits from sheriff’s deputies to ensure they are following the two-week quarantine order.

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