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. – A senior official with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rejected on Sunday the scathing criticism of the White House commercial adviser, Peter Navarro, to the country’s main health agency, in the latest sign of the growing tension between the CDC and the White House.
“We must remind Mr. Navarro that the CDC is a federal agency that is part of the Government. The CDC director is a designated position and Dr. (Robert) Redfield was appointed by President (Donald) Trump, ”the official told CNN.
“If there are criticisms of the CDC, Mr. Navarro is finally criticizing the president and the man President Trump placed to head the agency.”
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The comments come after Navarro criticized the CDC on Sunday morning, saying he “disappointed the country” in evidence during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“At the beginning of this crisis, the CDC, which really had the most trusted brand worldwide in this space, really disappointed the country with the tests,” said Navarro, a business adviser recruited for the coronavirus effort, on “Meet the press ”from NBC.
The criticism emerged when CNN reported that tensions are mounting between the White House and the country’s main public health agency. In interviews, senior administration officials in Washington, as well as senior CDC officials in Atlanta, described a growing sense of mistrust and animosity between the White House and CDC about how quickly the United States should reopen and how the government tracks the data about the virus.
“This administration has proven time and time again that it has a problem with science. We are giving them science and they don’t seem to want it, ”the veteran CDC official told CNN.
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The official also said that the initial plan to mitigate and control covid-19 in March was a “selective and gradual approach,” which the government “chose not to implement,” instead announcing a “general approach” of a 15-day national hiatus.
Commenting on the six-page guide to CDC’s “decision trees” that was released last week by the White House, the senior official told CNN that the recommendations were part of the larger, 68-page document.
“Now we are being too general. Before we were too specific. We continue to receive conflicting messages from the White House, ”said the official. “We publish what we are allowed to publish.”
Contamination in the manufacturing of the CDC test for the coronavirus caused weeks of delays that delayed the United States’ response to the pandemic, multiple health officials told CNN last month. The problem was due in part to the CDC not adhering to its own protocols, according to a spokesman for the US Food and Drug Administration.
The government has never fully explained what paralyzed the deployment of a crucial test needed to begin measuring the extent of the spread of covid-19. The situation took until the end of February to correct itself.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar acknowledged the problems with the original CDC test, but defended the agency in an interview on Sunday.
“I don’t think the CDC let this country down,” he told CBS’s “Face the Nation” when asked about Navarro’s comments. “I think CDC plays an important public health role, and what was always critical was bringing the private sector to the table.”
– Paul LeBlanc, Kristen Holmes and Arman Azad of CNN contributed to this report.