After being muted, sidelined, and disparaged by the Trump administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reportedly reveling in the transition to the Biden administration and eyeing a major comeback amid the still-roaring coronavirus pandemic.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” an unnamed senior CDC official told CNN Tuesday, after the ascertainment declaration from the General Services Administration. With the transition underway, senior officials are eager for Biden’s people to “send their landing team here and set up shop.”
When asked if Tuesday’s news lifted the mood among other senior leaders at the agency, the official emphatically replied: “Yes!” Senior leaders expect the transition to bring a “rebuilding of the agency,” the official added
Though rebuilding, to some extent, is standard in any transition, the CDC has a lot of ground to regain in the aftermath of the Trump era. The administration has spent the pandemic censoring CDC officials and nearly halting once-regular press briefings held by agency officials. Trump appointees also meddled with the agency’s scientific reports and watered-down critical public health guidance aimed at defeating the worst public health crisis of our time. Perhaps the most prominent examples of the administration’s interference was making alarming changes to the agency’s guidance on COVID-19 testing and school reopening.
Despite the CDC’s diminished standing, a federal health official emphasized to CNN that the agency has continued its diligent public health work in the background, including monitoring of schools amid the pandemic.
“The CDC continues to analyze school data and if necessary, it will refine or build on the guidance out there when it comes to schools,” the official said.
Like the CDC official, the federal health official also noted that the Biden transition has boosted enthusiasm around the agency. When asked if the CDC will return to a more visible role in the pandemic response, the official said: “”Man oh man, I hope so.”
In a currently rare press briefing last week, a CDC official told reporters: “We’re happy to be able to do this briefing. I would like to have these briefings on a regular basis.”