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White House officials clash on whether the CDC ‘let the country down’ on testing, signaling continued tensions between the agency and Trump administration


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White House officials clash on whether the CDC ‘let the country down’ on testing, signaling continued tensions between the agency and Trump administration

White House adviser Peter Navarro on Sunday blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for issues with COVID-19 testing in the US, saying the agency “really let the country down” at the outset of the pandemic.The relationship between the White House and the CDC seems to be turning sour, as CNN reported Saturday that…

White House officials clash on whether the CDC ‘let the country down’ on testing, signaling continued tensions between the agency and Trump administration
  • White House adviser Peter Navarro on Sunday blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for issues with COVID-19 testing in the US, saying the agency “really let the country down” at the outset of the pandemic.
  • The relationship between the White House and the CDC seems to be turning sour, as CNN reported Saturday that adviser Dr. Deborah Birx has also grown frustrated with the agency. 
  • It’s not entirely bad blood between the administration and the agency, as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said later Sunday he did not agree the CDC “let this country down.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

White House adviser Peter Navarro on Sunday said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “really let the country down” in regard to COVID-19 testing, which the US has struggled with since the outset of the pandemic reaching US soil.

During an appearance on “Meet the Press,” NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Navarro whether the president had confidence in the agency “as our lead on this pandemic.” 

“You should ask the president that question — not me,” Navarro said. “Early on in this crisis, the CDC, which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space, really let the country down with the testing, because not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy, they had a bad test and that did set us back.”

According to a previous Washington Post report, issues with CDC-created COVID-19 tests first appeared at the end of January when the CDC sent an initial batch to 26 public health labs across the US that sometimes yielded false-positive results.

Officials from the Food and Drug Administration found the CDC violated its own laboratory standards in its production process, exposing the tests to contamination, according to the Washington Post. 

—Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) May 17, 2020

Navarro’s comments come one day after CNN reported that Dr. Debroah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, has grown increasingly frustrated with the CDC and the way it collects data. As the Associated Press reported earlier in May, White House officials reportedly shelved CDC-approved guidance for reopening the US, further flaring tensions between the White House and the US’ top health agency.

The relationship between the Trump administration and the CDC doesn’t appear to be entirely frayed, however. During an appearance on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” later Sunday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar disagreed with Navarro’s comments.

“I don’t believe the CDC let this country down,” Azar said. “I believe the CDC serves an important public health role and what was always critical was to get the private sector to the table.”

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