New documents show how former US President Donald Trump’s health officials celebrated after getting COVID-19 related reports changed to suit the former President’s optimistic messaging on the virus.
According to The Washington Post, a report by Congressional investigators found officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), appointed by Trump, emailed each other with excitement as their attempts to blunt scientists’ COVID-19 findings succeeded.
The report reveals then science-advisor at the HHS, Paul Alexander, wrote to former public affairs chief Michael Caputo on September 9 last year, elated to have coerced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) into changing the opening sentence of a report about the spread of COVID-19 in young people.
Alexander said it was a “small victory but a victory nonetheless and yippee!!!”
In the same email, he also trumpeted a change to the CDC Morbidity and mortality weekly reports which were made in response to his demands.
The changes were aimed at softening the intensity of the CDC reports and aligning them with Trump’s more positive messaging surrounding the virus, and his plan to open up schools.
Only two days later, Alexander emailed White House advisor Scott Atlas asking for assistance in disputing a soon-to-be-released CDC report on COVID-19 deaths among young people.
Alexander felt the report was timed to cause damage to Trump’s 2020 election campaign and was an attempt to keep schools shut when Trump had plans to reopen them.
“Can you help me craft an op-ed?” he wrote.
“Let us advise the President and get permission to preempt this please for it will run for the weekend so we need to blunt the edge as it is misleading.”
Throughout the emails obtained by The Washington Post, the officials worked to come up with ways Trump could argue to reopen the economy despite rising COVID-19 cases.
“I know the President wants us to enumerate the economic cost of not reopening. We need solid estimates to be able to say something like 50,000 more cancer deaths! 40,000 more heart attacks! 25,000 more suicides!” Caputo wrote to Alexander on May 16.
Alexander also wrote to the HHS secretary’s speechwriter arguing that keeping the economy shut would have negative impacts in the way of alcohol, drugs, and depression.
Alexander who is not a health professional but did work part-time in a health role, also targeted Anthony Fauci, the US Government’s top infectious disease expert – complaining his calls to close schools were unreasonable compared to his response to previous flu outbreaks.
“Dr Fauci has no data, no science to back up what he is saying on school reopen, none… he is scaring the nation wrongfully,” Alexander wrote to senior officials in August.
The US so far has seen 31.1 million cases of COVID-19 and 561,000 deaths from the virus.