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Brief # 98 Health and Gender Policy

The CDC Under Trump and Biden: What A Difference!

By Erin McNemar

March 29, 2021

Policy
Since the beginning of his administration, former President Donald Trump gave the impression that he was skeptical of the scientific community. This information came to a head when Trump was faced with how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of his final year in office, Trump chose to spread misinformation regarding the virus rather than relying on the information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With Trump leaving office and President Joe Biden stepping in, the American people are seeing a change in how the CDC is utilized.

Analysis

Much of Biden’s platform when he was running for President was based around the idea that science would be at the top of his agenda. Before making decisions regarding climate change, coronavirus etc. he would consult with a team of experts. The concept of listening to experts and following recommendations was a dramatic shift from what we saw in the Trump administration. With that in mind, it was not surprising to discover the muzzle placed on the CDC during the Trump presidency. 

Once Biden took office, newly appointed CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky came out and said that the Trump administration attempted to silence the agency in order to downplay how severe the pandemic actually was. “They [CDC] have been diminished. I think they’ve been muzzled. That science hasn’t been heard…This top-tier agency, world renowned, hasn’t really been appreciated over the last four years and really markedly over the last year, so I have to fix that,” Walensky said.

Accusations of the administration’s dismissive nature for science were also echoed by Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci. Throughout his pandemic response, Trump continuously undermined the CDC with misleading comments regarding treatment and by appointing officials to carry out his messaging. Essentially, Trump decided to sideline the agency’s expertise and knowledge and tried to take matters into his own hands according to Walensky. Trump wanted to be the one controlling the narrative, not the virus. 

Moving forward into the Biden Presidency, Walensky has said the CDC is planning to revamp the agency’s communications. This will include regular briefings run by Walensky and engaging the public on social media. “Science is now conveyed through Twitter. Science is conveyed on social media, on podcasts and in many different ways, and I think that’s critical,” Walensky said. “We have to have a social media plan for the agency.”

Walensky said that interacting on social media will be an important tool in combating misinformation leftover from the Trump administration. The largest difference in the CDC between the two administrations is the willingness of the President to work with the agency and accept its advice. While the Trump administration wanted to silence the CDC and control their own narrative, the Biden administration turns to the agency for guidance on how to conduct policy. Rather than looking at the agency as a treat, the Biden administration views the CDC as an ally and an asset.

Engagement Resources

  • Read about the Biden-Harris COVID-19 response plan.
  • Learn about COVID-19 through the CDC.
  • Read about the vaccine.
  • Check your state’s government website to find out when you can get the vaccine.
  • Reach out to your senators and representatives to take action!
  • To keep up to date on the latest health & gender policy news, SUBSCRIBE HERE!
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