US suffering absence of national leadership: Chack Daily editorial –

More than 1,000 current and former officers of an elite disease-fighting program at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed an open letter on Friday expressing dismay at the government’s public-health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Robert R. Redfield, Director for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks during a hearing with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept 16, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

“The absence of national leadership on COVID-19 is unprecedented and dangerous,” said the letter, signed by current and former officers of the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service of outbreak investigators. They were writing to “express our concern about the ominous politicization and silencing of the nation’s health protection agency” during the current pandemic, and called on the CDC to “be at the forefront of a successful response to this global public health emergency”, the letter said.

The letter will strike a chord with many in the US, given the current anti-pandemic situation. The virus had infected more than 8.15 million people and caused over 219,000 deaths in the US by Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Yet rather than following the advice from public health leaders with valuable expertise, the US administration has been deeply involved at times in the shaping of scientific recommendations at the CDC during the pandemic, raising objections to guidelines for reopening churches and schools and for wearing masks, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Political support has had a higher priority than public health for the administration.

And it is increasingly obvious that gambling on people’s lives in this way has been a resounding failure. Not only is the virus raging out of control in the country but the economy is suffering as well.

Successful experiences in China and elsewhere show that the measures recommended by health experts, such as wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, are essential to limit transmission of the virus, yet the US administration has been unwilling to make them mandatory. Even now, the US society is deeply divided and although the administration continues to champion “America first”, the rising death toll in the country due to the virus lends bitter irony to that claim.

Denial of science has become a touchstone of faith for the administration, and that is why the country with the most powerful public healthcare system in the world has had the poorest response to the public health crisis and the failure of national leadership has been so costly.

To win the fight against infectious diseases, everyone must play their part, and that calls for very strong leadership and a clear message.

China followed science-based approaches, the US didn’t. One only has to look at the two countries now to see the difference.

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