Sidelined CDC forced to cancel briefings at the last minute as White House Task Force causes ‘chaos’

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow with no end in sight, the Washington Post reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has apparently been sidelined by the White House when it comes to its ability to inform the public.

"Neither CDC Director Robert Redfield nor Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director who has played key roles in CDC’s emergency responses stretching back two decades, including the 2009 influenza pandemic, have appeared behind the podium during White House coronavirus task force briefings for more than a week," the Post's Lena Sun writes.

The CDC, already facing criticism for the sluggish rollout of testing kits, has not held telephone briefings for reporters in over a week, and as Sun points out, its messaging on mass gatherings and social distancing has been overtaken by conflicting messages from the White House.

“It is confusing for the public to have CDC say no gatherings of more than 50 people, and the next day, the task force says no gatherings of more than 10 people,” Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the Post. “If the information has changed, tell everyone why. Let’s make sure everyone is on the same page.”

According to sources speaking to the Post, the White House's schedule often steps on the CDC's, creating "chaos on timing" when it comes to relaying messages to the public.

"Ever since [Mike Pence’s] team took over the response, they have treated the outbreak as a public relations crisis as much as a public health crisis and have tightly managed communications of top health and administration officials, officials have said," the Post reports.

Read Sun's reports in full over at The Washington Post.