WASHINGTON – The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday defended the agency against allegations that federal scientists were too slow to update their epidemic-control guidance and were overly conservative with their recommendations, especially on the exterior Wear a mask.
In Senate hearings with other top federal health officials over the federal government’s epidemic response, Republicans called the CDC’s director, Drs. Rochelle P. Wallensky accused the agency of failing to accommodate special interests under the agency’s guidance for schools and recognizing the low risk of outsiders. Transmission of coronavirus.
He said the agency had lost the trust of Americans who wanted to return to normal life.
Their grievances echoed the growing outrage – even among some public health experts – with the federal government’s pace of relaxing its recommendations as states across the country move to reopen their economies Huh.
The disappointment ranged from practical – asking children to wear masks in camp – to brilliant – suggestions that the National Institutes of Health had conspired with the Chinese to supercharge the virus, an allegation that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci called it “completely and completely wrong”. “
And they came as the White House went to increase access to coronovirus vaccines with a new pledge from ride-share giants Uber and Lyft, which President Biden said would begin offering free rides to and from thousands of vaccination sites.
Senator Susan Collins of the Republican of Maine complained at the hearing that the CDC had allowed the American Federation of Teachers to undue influence over the guidance to reopen her school, compromising her scientific integrity.
Dr. Wallensky said the change in the schools’ guidance was due to a “surveillance” – neglecting to include material on how to protect teachers with weak immune systems in its draft guidance. He said, when agency scientists consider the outside advice of industry experts, they said back-and-forth was a normal part of the agency’s process. Scientists at the CDC wrote the recommendations themselves, Drs. Wallensky said.
Ms. Collins also accused the CDC of using faulty data in its recent facade guidance for outdoor. Agency Announced last month That “less than 10 percent” transmission was passing out, a statistically contagious disease Experts said that was a confusing exaggeration. Dr. Wallensky said the CDC used rigorous aggregation of studies in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, a well-known medical publication, to back that figure.
“We have unnecessary barriers to reopening schools, exaggerating the risks of outdoor broadcasting and impractical restrictions on summer camps,” Ms. Collins said. “It matters because it reduces the public’s trust in your recommendations, in the recommendations that make sense.”
Dr. Wallensky said the CDC was working to update its guidance as more Americans are vaccinated and scientists gain new insights. The agency’s draft process – seeking internal and external expert input – was collaborative and responsive, she said.
Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana called Dr. Told the Valensky that the public is “beginning to disregard what you say is true,” warning the results if the CDC did not update the guidance on how Americans could return to office. He also accused the agency of delaying the acceptance Minimum risk of external transmission.
“The American people have lost patience with us,” he said.
As health officials defended the work of the Biden administration, the White House announced its latest steps to promote the nation’s vaccination. In a meeting With six governors from both sides, including Republicans from Ohio and Utah, Mr. Biden said the ride-sharing initiative was part of an aggressive new phase of the administration’s efforts to address vaccine hesitation and outreach.
The White House said Uber and Lyft would promote free rides until July 4, the target date for Mr. Biden’s goal of immunizing at least partially 70 percent of adults.
Health officials say Americans remain eager to vaccinate – provider Are administering About 2.19 million doses per day on average – but lack of transport has hindered access.
The Senate hearing on Tuesday dominated the discussion of the CDC’s guidance material. Republican Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina linked the agency’s guidance-drafting process to the administration’s ability to vaccinate more Americans.
He said, “If we fail to trust what they have done to make a proper call on us,” then “We are going to fail.”
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said her state was still waiting on the CDC to update its cruise ship guidance, endangering the state’s tourism industry.
She also said that federal mask requirements for transportation centers were compromising the work of fishermen, who faced greater danger in wearing masks, but who are afraid of failing to comply with government orders.
“You’re out on a boat. The winds are moaning. Your mask is wet,” Ms. Murkowski said. “Tell me how someone thinks this is a sensible and good policy.”
On the other side of the United States, fishermen were struggling with similar enforcement policies, said Senator Maggie Hassan, a Democrat from New Hampshire. She said she had met some people in her state who had been fully vaccinated, but was harassed by members of the Coast Guard about having masks.
Dr. Wallensky said the agency was finalizing guidance to deal with the problem.
At one point on Tuesday, Senator Christopher S. Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, stepped in to defend the officers who testified.
“We faced four years with a president who literally made things about this virus, which simplified the story over and over again,” he said. “We still have a lot to learn. And so, I, frankly, appreciate the fact that today we have leaders who believe that we still have gaps in information that sometimes save lives. May err on the side of caution.
The hearing took several heated rounds to address allegations that the National Institutes of Health, where Drs. Fauci, a top official, had supported research in one. Laboratory in Wuhan, China, Where some of the top officials of the Trump administration maintained the novel may have leaked from coronavirus. Most scientists agree that coronavirus emerged most commonly in the natural world and spread from animals to humans.
Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who dau. Known for a dispute with Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist accused the US of supporting an American scientist’s collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The institute has a state-of-the-art laboratory known for its research on coronaviruses.
Dr. Fauci is the so-called. Rejected suggestions about immediately gain of function The research, saying that the NIH had never supported such work.
Katie Rogers contributed reporting.