“We will recover, but the question is: How long will it take?”
By Anthony Rivas | ABC |
Five former directors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who came together to speak about the coronavirus on Thursday said repeatedly that the United States is still struggling to deal with the pandemic because of one thing: mixed messages from leadership.
“This is the first public health response where the ground rules weren’t set up that we would be driven by the best available public health science,” said Dr. Richard Besser, who served as acting director of the CDC in 2009. “So, when you have political leaders and public health leaders coming at this with very different messaging, [and] when you don’t see the political leadership supporting public health science, you lose trust. And the people question whether things are being done because they’re the right thing to do scientifically or whether they’re being done for political reasons, and that leads to an undermining of the efforts to control something that is truly controllable.”
Besser was joined by Drs. Julie Gerberding, Tom Frieden, Jeffrey Koplan and David Satcher to speak with ABC News’ Linsey Davis. The former CDC directors, who worked under both Democratic and Republican administrations, also spoke about preventing the next pandemic and about the challenges Americans will face even once a vaccine is approved.
They said the country’s best chance at stopping the virus is by working together.
“Right now, one person a minute is getting killed by this virus in the U.S., and we need to focus on what the virus is doing and what we as a community are doing to stop it,” said Frieden, who was the CDC director from 2009 to 2017. “Because all of us can do things to make it less severe, whether that’s wearing a mask, washing our hands, watching our distance or supporting public health so that they can box in virus… and protect the most vulnerable. There’s a lot we can do. Progress is in our hands, but when it’s undermined, it makes it very difficult to make progress.”