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Thu Oct 15, 2020, 09:14 AM

Science: Deborah Birx At Task Force Meeting: "There Is Nothing From The CDC That I Can Trust"

On the morning of 13 July, more than 20 COVID-19 experts from across the U.S. government assembled in a conference room at the Department of Health and Human Services, steps from the Capitol. The group conferred on how best to gather key data on available beds and supplies of medicine and protective gear from thousands of hospitals. Around the table, masks concealed their expressions, but with COVID-19 cases surging out of control in some parts of the country, their grave mood was unmistakable, say two people who were in the room.

Irum Zaidi, a top aide to White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Deborah Birx, chaired the meeting. Zaidi lifted her mask slightly to be heard and delivered a fait accompli: Birx, who was not present, had pulled the plug on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) system for collecting hospital data and turned much of the responsibility over to a private contractor, Pittsburgh-based TeleTracking Technologies Inc., a hospital data management company. The reason: CDC had not met Birx’s demand that hospitals report 100% of their COVID-19 data every day.

According to two officials in the meeting, one CDC staffer left and immediately began to sob, saying, “I refuse to do this. I cannot work with people like this. It is so toxic.” That person soon resigned from the pandemic data team, sources say. Other CDC staffers considered the decision arbitrary and destructive. “Anyone who knows the data supply chain in the U.S. knows [getting all the data daily] is impossible” during a pandemic, says one high-level expert at CDC. And they considered Birx’s imperative unnecessary because staffers with decades of experience could confidently estimate missing numbers from partial data. “Why are they not listening to us?” a CDC official at the meeting recalls thinking. Several CDC staffers predicted the new data system would fail, with ominous implications. “Birx has been on a monthslong rampage against our data,” one texted to a colleague shortly afterward. “Good f---ing luck getting the hospitals to clean up their data and update daily.”

EDIT

CDC employees with whom Science spoke—who requested anonymity because they fear retaliation—along with other public health leaders, say Birx’s actions, abetted by a chaotic White House command structure and weak leadership from CDC Director Robert Redfield, have contributed to what amounts to an existential crisis for the agency. And her disrespect for CDC has sent morale plummeting, senior officials say. During a May task force meeting, The Washington Post reported, Birx said: “There is nothing from the CDC that I can trust.” CDC scientists and others say Birx’s record echoes her approach as head of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) since 2014. Although that program is widely praised, people who worked on it for years say her draconian management and unrealistic data demands damaged morale and disrupted fieldwork and patient services.

Through the office of Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the task force, Birx declined to be interviewed or to respond to written questions, including whether the White House pressured her to use TeleTracking’s system. (TeleTracking’s majority owner, real estate developer Michael Zamagias, has donated to Republican candidates and has ties to Trump businesses through colleagues, according to an NPR report.)

EDIT

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/10/inside-story-how-trumps-covid-19-coordinator-undermined-cdc

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Reply Science: Deborah Birx At Task Force Meeting: "There Is Nothing From The CDC That I Can Trust" (Original post)
hatrack Oct 15 OP
Me. Oct 15 #1
durablend Oct 15 #2
malaise Oct 15 #3

Response to hatrack (Original post)

Thu Oct 15, 2020, 09:36 AM

1. THat's Rich Coming From Her

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Response to Me. (Reply #1)

Thu Oct 15, 2020, 09:39 AM

2. This.

She should stick to fashion accessories.

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Response to hatrack (Original post)

Thu Oct 15, 2020, 09:41 AM

3. What were her connections to the private contractor? n/t

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