APHA condemns political interference in CDC work

Date: May 18 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact APHA Media Relations, 202-777-3913

The American Public Health Association strongly supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the leading national public health agency guiding the nation’s public health work, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have faith in CDC as a paragon of our institutional response to this pandemic,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD. ”The agency must be listened to as a key voice as we work to overcome COVID-19, which continues to take a tragic toll in America and across the world.”

APHA issued its statement in the wake of media reports detailing conflicts between CDC and the White House, which delayed the agency’s evidence-based guidelines for reopening the country.

“Our interest is science, not politics,” Benjamin said. “CDC has been the lead agency protecting the public’s health over the past 70 years. Its credibility as a bastion of scientific research, data collection and information-sharing about public health is without question. It is one of the most trusted federal agencies, and must be allowed to maintain its scientific rigor without pressure from outside influences.”

CDC last week issued guidance in the form of six decision tools to help businesses, workplaces, schools, child care programs and others assess whether they are reading to carry out regular activities while following infection control practices such as physical distancing.

The tools, which were approved by the Trump administration, were not as detailed as a draft 63-page document obtained and shared by the Associated Press May 13. The draft proposed a more specific framework for best practices business and individuals could follow for infection control.

Throughout the outbreak, CDC has provided a wealth of COVID-19 directives designed to keep workers and the public safe. The actions include practices that have allowed health care facilities to scale up operations, undertake safety actions such as cleaning and disinfection procedures, initiate physical distancing and monitor possible reemergence of illness. The agency regularly releases data that evaluates hospitalizations and transmission of the disease. It also has supported contact tracing, which has helped some states slow the spread of COVID-19.

“CDC has been at the forefront in the fight against disease and health threats for more than seven decades, and it has achieved it successes without political interference," Benjamin said.

CDC uses science to develop disease control and prevention programs, focusing on infectious disease, foodborne pathogens, environmental health, occupational safety and health, injury prevention, school health, health equity and health promotion, among many other issues. CDC also conducts research and provides critical information to prevent chronic diseases and conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

The agency also helps local communities develop policies and toolkits to raise public awareness of health-related problems and solutions

“CDC is the core of our prevention infrastructure, and its work keeps people healthy and productive,” Benjamin said. “The agency and its many dedicated public staff are among the true heroes of this pandemic and every other major health battle of the last 70 years.

“We must support and maintain CDC’s most important focus to care for, evaluate and — most importantly — protect America’s health now and in the future.” 

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APHA champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Visit us at www.apha.org.