Imagine the government making a public health decision so risky that the CDC refused to attach their name to the press release.
Sound like something from a bad zombie movie? Unfortunately, it really happened.
A new story from the Washington Post reveals that a “top Trump administration health official” and the State Department ignored the CDC’s recommendations. Instead, they decided to bring Americans who had tested positive for the coronavirus, or covid-19, home from the cruise ship upon which they were trapped.
A Nightmare Voyage
In total, 328 Americans spent weeks quarantined on the Diamond Princess in Yokohama, Japan.
The trip appeared to be coming to an end when the US committed to flying passengers back to the US. But before they could board the planes, reports came in that over a dozen Americans had tested positive for the virus.
The CDC recommended that infected passengers remain quarantined in Japan. But administrative officials ultimately decided that they could fly back as long as they remained in a section of the plane blocked off with plastic.
According to an unnamed official, an intervention from a Republican congressman “tipped the balance.”
Representative Phil Roe of Tennessee had friends aboard the ship who told him of its poor conditions. His testimony apparently overrode that of the CDC’s principal deputy director, as well as the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, both of whom expressed concerns about transporting sick passengers.
The CDC’s objections were so vehement that they would not allow the State Department to mention them in the press release where they discussed the decision to bring the infected passengers back to the US.
The Trump Administration’s Impact
The disagreement comes as part of a larger pattern of ineptitude regarding the Trump administration’s response to the virus. As Front Page Live reported earlier, Trump had previously slashed the CDC’s budget and shut down several units that responded to pandemics.
He’s also repeatedly spread misinformation about the virus.
The number of people infected in the US has now reached 34. According to the New York Times, 18 of those were aboard the Diamond Princess.
That number is expected to rise as the CDC examines patients who had tested positive in Japan.