Five former directors of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) criticized the contradictory messages put out by President Donald Trump's administration Thursday.
Here's what some of them said:
Dr. Thomas Frieden said that the CDC had been sidelined early on in the pandemic and described Trump’s contradictory messages as “chaotic leadership,” which has led to partisanship, confusion and increased spread of the virus.
“It's unbelievable that six months into the pandemic, it's not clear who's in charge, federally,” Frieden said during a roundtable hosted by ABC News Live.
“There's no plan. There's no common data that we're looking at to see what's happening with the virus and what's happening with our response.”
Dr. Jeffrey Koplan said that "every one of those falsehoods" damages the nation's mitigation efforts against the virus.
Frieden added that Americans want information from the CDC. “Americans are voting with their clicks. There have been 1.6 billion clicks on the CDC website,” said Frieden. “The more we learn, the more we know, the better we can control it.”
Dr. Richard Besser said the federal response to the pandemic has been “absolutely unacceptable” considering the US is the wealthiest nation on the planet.
He also criticized politicians for viewing CDC guidelines as an obstacle.
“If you have politicians saying that CDC guidance is a barrier to getting children back into school, instead of the roadmap for doing it safely, the whole system breaks down,” said Besser, who was an acting CDC chief during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009.
Dr. Julie Gerberding, who headed the CDC under former president George W. Bush, said she hopes that the government can learn from this crisis.
“I really do hope that finally it's gotten so bad that we will reinvent how we think about our health security in the context of our national security,"
Dr. David Satcher, a former US Surgeon General who headed the CDC under former president Bill Clinton, said communities of color that have been hit harder by the pandemic are going to require particular attention during recovery efforts
“It's going to say a lot about us as a nation, whether we step up to this challenge, and remove many of the structural barriers to health that people in this country face," he said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misattributed Dr. Thomas Frieden's remarks to Dr. Jeffrey Koplan. Frieden said that Americans want information from the CDC, and “Americans are voting with their clicks. There have been 1.6 billion clicks on the CDC website. The more we learn, the more we know, the better we can control it.”