What happened: Against the objections of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientists, political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) edited, delayed, and tried to halt numerous CDC reports and studies on COVID-19. While some attempts were unsuccessful, like adding a highly political review process to a well-respected CDC report series (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports), other attempts were successful, like delaying the release of a CDC report (on how doctors were prescribing hydroxychloroquine) by a full month for political reasons. After this attack on science was reported, the main HHS political appointee that carried out these acts, Michael Caputo, HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, went on a 60-day medical leave and a senior member of his team, Paul Alexander, left HHS.
Why it matters: The primary way that we are going to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce its devastating health, economic, and wellness impacts is by allowing CDC scientists the ability to carry out their COVID-19 work freely and independently, without being pressured by higher ups to follow a political agenda. When political officials like Caputo interfere with (and by some accounts, bully and intimidate) CDC scientists, these scientists cannot do their important work, which is to save people’s lives and protect their health and safety during a deadly pandemic.
Learn more about how CDC scientists had their COVID-19 reports greatly compromised by HHS political appointee Michael Caputo and his team.