Past CDC Director Urges Current One To Stand Up To Trump

William Foege, former director of the Centers for Illness Control and Avoidance, receives the Medal of Flexibility from President Barack Obama in 2012.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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Charles Dharapak/AP

William Foege, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gets the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2012.

Charles Dharapak/AP

Whats undesirable, Foege says, is to remain the course. “I believe President Trump and Vice President Pence are doing the best they can. And that is an awful statement,” he says. The U.S. continues to lead the world in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths.

” I believe weve got about the worst response to this pandemic that you could possibly have,” stated Foege, who worked as CDC director from 1977 to 1983, covering the Carter and Reagan administrations, in an interview with NPR.

” We have 75 years of experience at CDC on how to manage break outs,” he states, “And weve learned a great deal of lessons. And it appears to me that each of those lessons has been violated.”

Dr. William Foege doesnt understand how his personal letter to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, got dripped– but he waits its contents.

Until now, Foege has actually not been openly vital of the CDCs performance, but he says he felt an ethical seriousness to speak up. “If you know how to prevent torture and dont do it, you end up being the torturer,” Foege said, pointing out writings by Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi. Foege hoped the personal letter to Redfield would compel the CDC director to take actions toward restoring the credibility of the public health firm. While Foege acknowledged that such a letter would probably get him fired, “he might leave with his head held high, knowing that he had done the ideal thing to attempt to remedy the course of this pandemic.”

In just 6 months, the CDCs reputation has gone “from gold to stained brass,” Foege composed, which might make it hard for the company to hire top scientists and set worldwide requirements, as it has for years. “Its incredible that one person or a group of individuals can stain your track record to that degree,” Foege states, “Its going to be difficult to restore that position.”

Whats undesirable, Foege says, is to stay the course.

Previously, Foege has not been openly crucial of the CDCs performance, however he states he felt an ethical urgency to speak out. “If you know how to avoid abuse and do not do it, you become the torturer,” Foege stated, mentioning writings by Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi. “This is the concern I found myself living under: that silence was complicity.”

In a scathing letter sent out Sept. 23, Foege tells Redfield that, while the CDC director has “shown excellent durability in wanting to take [the Trump administrations] abuse,” former and current CDC workers have lost self-confidence in his leadership. “At the minute, they feel you accepted the White House orders without enough resistance,” he composed. The letter was gotten and published this week by USA Today.

Foege states he and Redfield have exchanged e-mails because the letter was sent out– however that those exchanges will remain personal.

He blames the White House, which he says has actually not allowed the CDC, the countrys public health agency, to use its significant understanding to the pandemic response: “It felt to me like President Trump had his knee on the neck of the general public health community holding them down so that they might not really do their work,” he says.

Foege says he penned the letter due to the fact that he was frustrated that the countrys unpleasant, piecemeal efforts have actually led to lots of unneeded deaths. The circumstance in the U.S. “is a massacre and not just a political conflict,” he composed.

Those errors include: doing not have a strong federal strategy– which has actually caused 50 states having 50 various strategies; delivering the CDCs authority as a source of trustworthy, prompt details to the opinions of myriad academics throughout the country; and keeping an isolationist “America First” policy and refusing to coordinate with other nations during a pandemic that covers the world.

Foege hoped the personal letter to Redfield would force the CDC director to take actions towards restoring the trustworthiness of the public health agency. While Foege acknowledged that such a letter would most likely get him fired, “he could leave with his head held high, knowing that he had actually done the ideal thing to attempt to remedy the course of this pandemic.”