In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 race, which unfolded in the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic. The latest vaccine news is good. Other COVID news is bad.
A top Trump appointee repeatedly urged top health officials to adopt a "herd immunity" approach to Covid-19 and allow millions of Americans to be infected by the virus, according to internal emails obtained by a House watchdog and shared with POLITICO.
“There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD," then-science adviser Paul Alexander wrote on July 4 to his boss, Health and Human Services assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo, and six other senior officials.
"Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd…we want them infected…" Alexander added.
Kyle McGowan, a former chief of staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and his deputy, Amanda Campbell, were installed in 2018 as two of the youngest political appointees in the history of the world’s premier public health agency, young Republicans returning to their native Georgia to dream jobs.
But what they witnessed during the coronavirus pandemic this year in the C.D.C.’s leadership suite on the 12-floor headquarters here shook them: Washington’s dismissal of science, the White House’s slow suffocation of the agency’s voice, the meddling in its messages and the siphoning of its budget.
In a series of interviews, the pair has decided to go public with their disillusionment: what went wrong, and what they believe needs to be done as the agency girds for what could be a yearslong project of rebuilding its credibility externally while easing ill feelings and self-doubt internally.
“Everyone wants to describe the day that the light switch flipped and the C.D.C. was sidelined. It didn’t happen that way,” Mr. McGowan said. “It was more of like a hand grasping something, and it slowly closes, closes, closes, closes until you realize that, middle of the summer, it has a complete grasp on everything at the C.D.C.”
Last week, the editor in chief of the C.D.C.’s flagship weekly disease outbreak reports — once considered untouchable — told House Democrats investigating political interference in the agency’s work that she was ordered to destroy an email showing Trump appointees attempting to meddle with their publication.
The pace of jobs coming back from the 22 million we lost to Covid-19 is way down and potentially headed to zero this month. Weekly initial jobless claims are creeping back toward 1 million, a massive number still well above the pre-Covid record. Retail sales tanked a worse than expected 1.1 percent in November, the second monthly drop in a row as household incomes continue to fall without more federal support.
There’s a very good chance the U.S. is about to repeat the very slow recovery from the financial crisis of 2008-2009. That one, you may recall, helped launch populist uprisings like Occupy Wall Street on the left, the Tea Party on the right and eventually helped elect President Donald Trump.