For years, public health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been playing out scenarios for dealing with pandemics, but the one scenario they didn’t count on was that they’d be hamstrung by their own political leaders.
“I don’t think anybody ever thought that that would happen,” said Maryn McKenna, a veteran reporter on infectious diseases. “And yet, seven months into the pandemic here in the United States, that’s pretty much where we are.”
McKenna and others involved in the response to the coronavirus outbreak discussed the role that politics has played in the pandemic, during a presentation organized by the National Association of Science Writers and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.
Today’s session served as the kickoff for a free weekly series of online events focusing on COVID-19, offered for journalists as well as the public in conjunction with the annual ScienceWriters conference.
Panelists agreed that mixed messages from the nation’s leaders have hampered efforts to combat the pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Americans. Just today, Cornell University researchers said their analysis pointed to President Donald Trump as “the single largest driver of misinformation around COVID.”
Such misinformation ...