According to the report, there is a “growing sense of mistrust and animosity” between White House and CDC officials over how the United States should reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force Dr. Deborah Birx is reportedly in the epicenter of the alleged conflict.
Two senior administration officials told CNN that Birx has “become increasingly critical” of the nation’s leading public health agency, butting heads with its director Robert Redfield. The two have known each other for decades and Birx has publicly defended her colleague against criticism, but she is “more than frustrated” with how the agency is handling the COVID-19 outbreak.
Earlier this week, the CDC released new guidelines to help businesses and schools decide whether they are ready to reopen. The release of the brief, six-page document is reportedly seen as a sign that Birx is an influential voice in the White House. According to an administration official, Trump has had disagreements with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, but not with Birx.
“She is charming and listens to him. She has found a way to shut down his bad ideas without making him feel diminished, unlike Fauci and some of the others. It is clear that she has his ear.”
Birx has reportedly become increasingly frustrated with the CDC’s data collection system. She has allegedly argued that the agency is not able to track COVID-19 cases and deaths in real-time. CDC officials who spoke to CNN confirmed that there are indeed issues with the system.
According to one official, the delay is “part of the problem, we don’t know how far of a lag there is, but there definitely is a lag.”
The Washington Post was the first to report on the alleged tensions between Birx and the CDC. The publication’s sources said that Birx and other White House officials believe the CDC’s data is unreliable. During a recent meeting with Redfield, Birx reportedly said that “there is nothing from the CDC that I can trust.”
Trump has long insisted that the economy needs to reopen as soon as possible. During a press conference on Friday, the commander-in-chief said that the nation will have to find a way to “fight through” the coronavirus pandemic, whether a vaccine is developed or not.