Press Release

Big Cities Health Coalition to Elected Leaders: Trust Data and Science, and Let Experts Do Their Jobs

June 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 24, 2020             

Chrissie Juliano, MPP, Executive Director, issued the following statement:

“In the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime public health crisis, we at the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) are growing increasingly alarmed by new reports suggesting that administration officials are ramping up efforts to cast blame and potentially ‘reorganize’ the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the nation’s response to the pandemic. 

There should be no doubt that the CDC is the world’s preeminent public health agency. It employs dedicated, career staff who have spent their lives working to promote health and prevent the spread of infectious disease, among other important responsibilities.

The CDC’s subject matter expertise, based on science, evidence, and data, is critical in responding to a crisis like this pandemic. Weakening the agency or even sowing doubts about its motivations puts American lives at risk. Career staff at the CDC have planned, trained, and drilled for this moment. And as such, we must all put science ahead of politics.

The CDC must be allowed to provide guidance directly to the American public and their state and local public health colleagues, without political interference. Wearing or not wearing a mask should neither be an actual partisan litmus test, nor a perceived one. Complying with stay-at-home-orders should not be a political or partisan decision. Ultimately, saving lives and preventing disease cannot be a partisan issue.

For the CDC, communicating directly to Americans has been critical to gaining and keeping public trust. The silencing of the CDC’s voice and expertise has not only been catastrophic to the federal response but has also led to many Americans’ mistrust of their own local and state health officials. Stoking this distrust has led, at best, to harassment of some officials, and in others, actual threats of personal harm.

As the pandemic continues to spread, now is not the time to assign blame or to further weaken the agency most critical to our national response. The CDC has supported communities across the country, in ways many may never know.  Washington State, Seattle-King County, and Santa Clara County, to name just a few, benefited early on from CDC expertise and field staff detailed to support the on-the-ground response within hours of their first cases being discovered.

Undercutting expertise, science, and data during a pandemic is a grave misstep that puts the health and well-being of the American people at risk. The administration must allow the CDC to operate as the nonpartisan, preeminent government agency it has always been, both domestically and globally. And, leaders in Congress must continue to exercise their oversight authority to hold the administration accountable. The health and safety of the American people depend on it.”

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Contact: Max Mays, mays@bigcitieshealth.org  
About the Big Cities Health Coalition

The Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) is a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of their residents. Collectively, BCHC member jurisdictions directly impact nearly 62 million people, or one in five Americans. For more information, visit https://www.bigcitieshealth.org.