On Feb. 13, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent out an email with what the author described as an “URGENT” call for help. The agency was struggling with one of its most important duties: keeping track of Americans suspected of having the novel coronavirus. It had “an ongoing issue” with organizing — and sometimes flat-out losing — forms sent by local agencies about people thought to be infected. The email listed job postings for people who could track or retrieve this paperwork.
“Help needed urgently,” the CDC wrote. The documents — mostly emails — provide a behind-the-scenes peek into the messy early stages of the U.S. response to the coronavirus, revealing an antiquated public health system trying to adapt on the fly. What comes through clearly is confusion, as the CDC underestimated the threat from the virus and stumbled in communicating to local public health officials what should be done.
Read the full article. Whoa.
Pictured above is CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield.
Mother Jones reports:
In the 1980s and early 1990s, as an Army doctor stationed at Walter Reed Medical Center, Redfield worked on setting up protocols to handle service members infected with AIDS. Even by the standards of the era, when much was still unknown about the virus, his suggestions were controversial. He advocated quarantining infected soldiers, spreading their diagnosis across the chain of command with little concern for their privacy, and investigating their sexual histories.
Redfield advocated similar ideas outside of the military, aligning himself with a conservative Christian group called Americans for a Sound HIV/AIDS Policy (ASAP) which supported similar steps in the general public (mandatory testing and quarantines) to control the spread of the virus. According to Foreign Policy, in the introduction of a book by ASAP’s founder, Redfield rejected the medical norms for handling the epidemic and called for a more faith-based approach.
How a simple fault and red tape botched the CDC’s coronavirus testing. https://t.co/3aZe63ah90
— MIT Technology Review (@techreview) March 25, 2020