The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said he told staff to ignore an email by a top Trump administration health official who had sought changes to a scientific report on Covid-19’s risk to children.
The email is question was written by Paul Alexander, a senior adviser to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Charlotte Kent, the editor of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, told congressional investigators that while on vacation in August she received instructions to delete the email.
“I instructed CDC to ignore Dr. Alexander’s comments,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said Thursday at a virtual event held by the Council on Foreign Relations. He also said he instructed staff that they didn’t need to reply to the message. “I would never delete an email,” he said.
The comments came in response to allegations Thursday from Representative James E. Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat and head of a congressional oversight subcommittee. In a letter to Redfield and Azar, Clyburn said the Trump administration had attempted to “destroy evidence that senior political appointees interfered with career officials’ response to the coronavirus crisis” at the CDC.
At the event, Redfield also expressed concerns that the U.S. will face far more deaths due to the pandemic in the coming months, even with a vaccine on the way. He urged Americans to follow virus-mitigation strategies such as wearing masks and social distancing, and to stay home for the holidays.
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