What happened: In February 2020, government officials were implementing a plan to evacuate American citizens off the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that had experienced a major COVID-19 outbreak. During the evacuation, State Department officials overrode the science-based concerns of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials and allowed 14 infected people (who weren’t showing symptoms) to board an airplane with over 300 non-infected people. CDC officials were so disturbed by these actions they requested that their names be stricken from the news release.
Why it matters: By ignoring the nation’s top experts on infectious diseases, political officials directly endangered the lives of hundreds of people and may have even contributed to the spread of the novel coronavirus. In February, it was well known that COVID-19 was a highly contagious disease that spreads easily in close quarters, and later science has shown that virus’ contagious nature – even in people not showing symptoms – is even worse than we previously imagined. The Trump administration’s blatant disregard of CDC experts, who were employing the best available science to stop the spread of a deadly disease, demonstrates the incredible harm that can occur when science is sidelined.
Learn more about how the Trump administration sidelined scientific experts early in the COVID-19 pandemic, and read up on our latest blog posts discussing the various ways that the administration has failed to respond to the pandemic using the best available science.