Covid-19 Live Updates: Masks Are ‘Most Important, Powerful Public Health Tool,’ Top Official Says – The New York Times

Mr. Caputo, a longtime Trump loyalist and the health department’s assistant secretary of public affairs, had apologized for his Facebook presentation to his staff and to Alex M. Azar II, the department’s leader, after his comments became public.

Since he was installed at the department in April by the White House, Mr. Caputo, a media-savvy former Trump campaign aide, has aggressively worked to develop a media strategy for dealing with the pandemic. But critics, including some in the administration, complained that he was promoting the president’s political interests over public health.

His Facebook talk, which was shared with The New York Times, was filled with ominous predictions of left-wing “hit squads” plotting armed insurrection after the election and attacks on C.D.C. scientists, who he said had formed a “resistance unit” determined to undercut Mr. Trump’s chances of re-election. He accused the scientists of “rotten science” and said they “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants” except to plot against the president at coffee shops.

Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the C.D.C., told a Senate panel Wednesday morning that he was “deeply saddened” by Mr. Caputo’s comments and said his remarks about government scientists committing “sedition” were “false accusations” offensive to career officials at his agency.

“C.D.C. is made up of thousands of dedicated men and women, highly competent,” he said. “It is the premier public health agency in the world.”

Mr. Caputo and a colleague pushed the C.D.C. to delay and edit closely-guarded and apolitical C.D.C. health bulletins, called Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, in an effort to paint the administration’s pandemic response in a more positive light.

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Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democrat on the health panel, said at the hearing that it was “dangerous and unprecedented that political appointees are editing, censoring and ultimately undermining a report that is intended to give families, public health pros, researchers and health care providers what they need: the truth.”



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