SPH Faculty Call for CDC Support

An open letter by Epidemic Intelligence Service Officers past and present in support of the CDC

We, the undersigned, are physicians, nurses, scientists, and other health professionals who are alumnae/i or current Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officers of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We are proud of our training and service in the EIS, promoting CDC’s vital mission to protect the health of the American people.

We hereby express our concern about the ominous politicization and silencing of the nation’s health protection agency during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In previous public health crises, CDC provided the best available information and straightforward recommendations directly to the public. It was widely respected for effectively synthesizing and applying scientific evidence from epidemiologists and biomedical researchers at CDC and worldwide. Its historic credibility was based on incomparable expertise and 70+ years of institutional memory. That focus and organization is hardly recognizable today.

The absence of national leadership on COVID-19 is unprecedented and dangerous. The US epidemic is sustained by deadly chains of transmission that crisscross the entire country. Yet states and territories have been left to invent their own differing systems for defining, diagnosing and reporting cases of this highly contagious disease. Inconsistent contact tracing efforts are confined within each state’s borders — while coronavirus infections sadly are not. Such chaos is what CDC customarily avoided by its long history of collaboration with state and local health authorities in developing national systems for disease surveillance and coordinated control.

When this open letter was written, the COVID-19 death toll surpassed 100,000 in the US and 250,000 in all other countries combined. The devastation continues with an end not yet in sight. CDC should be at the forefront of a successful response to this global public health emergency. We urgently call upon the American people to demand and our nation’s leaders to allow CDC to resume its indispensable role.

SPH Signatories

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