Communications aides appointed by President Donald Trump have been reviewing reports from scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and changing them to better align with the Commander in Chief’s sunny message that the United States is beating the coronavirus pandemic, Politico reports. Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign officer and now the appointed assistant secretary for public affairs of the Department of Health and Human Services, and his deputies have repeatedly requested pre-publication access to the CDC’s weekly Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports and reportedly altered them in several cases since April to lessen the seeming severity of COVID-19.
CDC scientists have fought Caputo and company but in recent weeks have allowed them increasing sway over the reports, according to Politico. Caputo and his aides have also attempted to delay and even halt the release of other reports entirely. Dr. Paul Alexander, an adviser to Caputo, wrote in an August 8 email, “CDC to me appears to be writing hit pieces on the administration.” Trump has asserted multiple times that the new coronavirus will “disappear” and that the U.S. is “rounding the corner” on the pandemic despite nearly 200,000 American deaths from the virus and the highest number of cases in the world.