House Republicans accuse CDC director of keeping agency in ‘constant crisis’ throughout pandemic

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FIRST ON TBEN: Top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee accused the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rochelle Walenski to keep the agency in “constant crisis” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ranking committee member Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., alongside health and surveillance subcommittee ranking members Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., and Morgan Griffith, R-Va., has sent a letter to Walensky on Friday outlining the several crises the agency is facing in his custody.

“As the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you promised the American people that you would lead with ‘facts, science and integrity,'” the lawmakers wrote in the letter obtained exclusively by TBEN News Digital. “In a time of fear and uncertainty, this engagement was key to building trust with the public.”

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“But, you quickly abandoned this commitment to distort and ignore science, often to please Biden-Harris political donors,” the Republicans said. slammed Walensky.

Lawmakers wrote that the CDC was in “constant crisis” with Walensky at the helm, including “misleading” Americans about the likelihood of outside transmission of COVID-19 in April 2021, resulting in the “cruel directives summer camps” from the agency requiring children to wear masks outside, as well as “misinterpreted research” for school guidance.

Additionally, lawmakers fired Walensky for his “‘partnership’ with teachers’ unions” after it was revealed that the CDC worked with teachers’ unions to develop school guidance.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on November 4, 2021.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on November 4, 2021.
(REUTERS/Elisabeth Frantz)

“In May 2021, emails revealed your agency was politically compromised,” the Republicans wrote. “Specifically, the emails showed that you partnered with powerful teachers’ unions to write your ‘science-based’ school guidelines. While teachers’ unions praised those guidelines, children suffered.”

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They also pointed to Walensky’s “misleading hospitalization numbers” earlier this week, saying the CDC director “didn’t clarify how many of the more than 800,000 deaths in the United States were ‘due to COVID’ per opposed to ‘with COVID,’ but you suggested ‘data will be forthcoming’.”

“These are just a few of the instances that demonstrate a tendency to distort or ignore science and mislead the American public by the CDC, which has undoubtedly further eroded public confidence in you and your agency,” the Republicans wrote. “If you continue to lead the CDC for the Biden administration, we suggest that you insulate your agency’s decisions from political pressures.”

Walensky was in the Senate hot seat on Tuesday where she repeated the findings of a flawed study to support her position on masking in schools.

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“We have new science that has demonstrated the value of masking; 3.5 times greater risk of school outbreaks if you are unmasked in schools compared to masking in schools,” Walensky said.

That number referenced a study released by the CDC in September that said schools in counties without a mask mandate were 3.5 times more likely to experience a COVID-19 outbreak. This study was widely cited by Walensky in his efforts to promote universal masking for children.

However, in December, this study was criticized by The Atlantic, which criticized several flaws in the methodology which, among other things, included 40 “virtual learning academies”, about 20 preschools and about 90 “vocational programs associated with schools otherwise listed” .

The CDC did not respond to TBEN News’ request for comment.

Lindsay Kornick of TBEN News contributed to this report.

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