“We should remind Mr. Navarro that the CDC is a federal agency part of the administration. The CDC director is an appointed position, and Dr. (Robert) Redfield was appointed by President (Donald) Trump,” the official told CNN.
“If there is criticism of the CDC, ultimately Mr. Navarro is being critical of the President and the man who President Trump placed to lead the agency.”
“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. Not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy they had a bad test and that set us back,” Navarro said.
“This administration has shown 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.
The official also said that the initial plan to mitigate and control Covid-19 in March was a “targeted and phased approach,” which the administration “chose not to implement,” instead announcing a “blanket approach” 15-day national pause.
Commenting on the six-page CDC “decision trees” guidance 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’re being too general. Before it was too much specificity. We continue to get mixed messages from the White House,” the official said. “We are allowed to release what they allow us to release.”
The government has never fully explained what stalled the roll out of a crucial test needed to begin measuring the extent of the spread of Covid-19. It would take until the end of February to correct.
“I don’t believe the CDC let this country down,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation” when asked about Navarro’s comments. “I believe the CDC serves an important public health role, and what was always critical was to get the private sector to the table.”
CNN’s Paul LeBlanc, Kristen Holmes and Arman Azad contributed to this report.